Where is Alan Joyce? Former Qantas CEO avoids Senate committee, disappears on overseas getaway
Former Qantas boss Alan Joyce will not attend the Senate inquiry into how the airline was protected from foreign competition during his tenure as CEO.
Mr Joyce is overseas due to “personal obligations” and will not appear in person or via video link before the Senate committee examining the Albanian government’s decision to block Qatar from competing with Qantas on the routes interior.
He is believed to be traveling in Europe and possibly visiting his native Ireland.
Although Mr Joyce was unable to appear before the inquiry’s deadline, the chair of the inquiry committee, Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie, said Joyce would be called before the Senate on the matter when he returned to Australia.
In his absence, Mr Joyce is being represented at the inquiry by lawyers and the airline’s new CEO, Vanessa Hudson, and Qantas chairman Richard Goyder will appear for questioning again on Thursday after a grueling session on Wednesday .
Former Qantas CEO Alan Joyce (pictured left with husband Shane Lloyd) will not appear at a Senate inquiry into how the airline was protected from foreign competition.
On Wednesday, Senator McKenzie reiterated the Coalition’s conclusion that the decision to support the Voice Yes campaign was a sort of “quid pro quo” in exchange for the Albanian government’s rejection of Qatar Airways.
Qantas showed its support for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament by adding a Yes design to the side of three of its planes in August.
Ms Hudson experienced a particularly torrid moment from Senator McKenzie, who accused her of not being prepared to answer questions about the Yes campaign logos painted on the side of Qantas planes.
“I hope you will respect that the filibuster might have been the former CEO’s strategy,” Senator McKenzie said.
“I don’t like the current one.”
Ms Hudson then insisted that support for the Yes campaign and Qatar’s candidacy were “completely different and unrelated positions”.
Qantas senior adviser Andrew Finch also questioned the link, asking Senator McKenzie to “expand”.
Senator Bridget McKenzie questioned Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson on whether supporting the Indigenous Voice “Yes” campaign was “quid pro quo” for being protected from a competitor on Wednesday.
A tense back-and-forth between the two men ensued, with Senator McKenzie inflicting a brutal bandage on Mr Finch.
‘Guess what. When you participate in a Senate investigation, we ask the questions and you are expected to provide the answers,” she said.
“A bit like not submitting a submission, not having details of when you made important decisions in partnership with the government just shows a lack of respect.”
The committee ultimately heard that the decision to support the Yes campaign was made by Mr Joyce in consultation with the group’s executive committee, not the airline’s board.
Ms Hudson insisted she was not involved in conversations with Labor about Qatar’s bid and had only learned of the decision to block it through the media.
“We were not informed formally or informally… the feedback I received was that there was no informal conversation and we found out about it through the media,” Ms Hudson said.
Earlier, Ms Hudson echoed her apologies to consumers and stakeholders, beginning her appearance at the inquiry with another “sorry”.
“There have been times where we have let down the general Australian public and we understand why people are frustrated and also why some have lost faith in us,” she said.
Qantas chief executive Vanessa Hudson (pictured right) and board chairman Richard Goyder (pictured left) had a torrid time at the Senate inquiry.
“As the new CEO. I am determined to solve this problem.
Qantas chairman Richard Goyder, who faces calls to resign following a High Court ruling that the airline illegally dismissed 1,700 ground staff, has also been criticized for his past comments on Mr. Joyce.
Mr Goyder previously claimed Mr Joyce was Australia’s best chief executive.
He told the committee he was not going to walk away from Mr Joyce, although he understood Qantas had “work to do to rebuild trust”.
“I think Alan Joyce has done a great job as CEO for 15 years in what is a demanding industry,” he said.
Regarding calls for his resignation, Mr Goyder argued that Qantas shareholders did not want him to resign.