There’s a wedge jammed so hard into Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten you can almost see their eyes watering. The politics of Qantas are perhaps the first real test of both men.

For the Prime Minister, the decision to try to alter the Qantas Sale Act — opening up the beleaguered airline to foreign investors — is the political high road that goes nowhere. The Senate won’t have it, not now and probably not after July either. And it plays to the Labor criticism that this is a job-killing government — Transport Minister Warren Truss’ line on the ABC this morning that Qantas might have to offshore some jobs to create more here is nonsense. Nothing on the table makes the airline’s workforce any bigger.

For the Opposition Leader, his rejection of more foreign ownership for Qantas is consistent with a pro-jobs narrative but is politically populist and leaves him exposed as the man now blocking any government action on the airline. As the “national carrier” haemorrhages, it’s Shorten standing by.

Meanwhile, the only person who can really save Qantas is CEO Alan Joyce. And he seems content to pursue a loss-making domestic strategy that will quickly bury the flying kangaroo in the bush.

Right now, nobody wins. Certainly not Qantas shareholders.

Peter Fray

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