Former Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce has avoided facing the ongoing senate inquiry into aviation recently but the embattled ex-CEO’s days could be numbered as threats of jail time have arose.
The inquiry has put the Australian aviation industry under the spotlight, with the government, Qantas, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and, of course, Joyce himself being the topic of much discussion.
While his successor, Vanessa Hudson, the Qantas chairman, Richard Goyder, and general counsel Andrew Finch, received a good tongue lashing earlier this week, Joyce himself avoided it as he was out of the country.
Coalition senators leading the inquiry have confirmed they would summon Joyce once he’s back in town, according to Yahoo Finance. Speaking to reporters recently, senator Bridget McKenzie said she wouldn’t rule out jail time for Joyce if he didn’t comply with a summons.
“There are a whole raft of processes within the standing orders and the procedures of the Senate which will eventually make it very hard for former CEO Joyce to not appear,” she told reporters.
“He sought to rip his customers off, pocket over half a billion dollars worth of COVID flight credits, sold tickets to ghost flights and who indeed illegally sacked 1700 workers … this was no ordinary CEO.”
If the former Qantas boss doesn’t show face, the senate could jail him for up to six months.
Joyce told the inquiry that he can’t attend while overseas due to personal obligations and can only be formally summoned when he’s back in Australia. The committee said they plan on calling upon him regardless of if he returns before the date the report is due (9 October).
Alongside Joyce, McKenzie has called upon transport minister Catherine King to front the inquiry after she was caught instructing a transport department official not to answer a question regarding the minister’s meeting with Joyce.
“MO (minister’s office) view is it is not for the department to answer re the minister’s diary the question should be directed to the minister,” the text sent from her office to deputy secretary Marisa Purvis-Smith read.
Senator Simon Birmingham lashed out at this request, calling it “completely unacceptable.”
“If Minister King’s office is saying ‘get stuffed’ when her own department is seeking to provide information to this committee, then Minister King should front up herself,” he told the inquiry.
“It is completely unacceptable.”
Read more about the inquiry here.