Where is Alan Joyce? Ex-Qantas CEO dodges Senate committee and disappears on overseas jaunt
Where is Alan Joyce? Former Qantas CEO avoids Senate committee and disappears on an overseas trip
Former Qantas boss Alan Joyce will not appear at the Senate inquiry into how the airline was protected from foreign competition during his tenure as CEO.
Mr Joyce is abroad due to “personal commitments” and will not appear in person or via video link before the Senate committee investigating the Albanian government’s decision to prevent Qatar from competing with Qantas on domestic routes.
He is believed to be traveling around Europe and possibly visiting his native Ireland.
Despite Mr Joyce being unable to appear before the inquiry’s deadline, the chair of the inquiry committee, Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie, said Joyce will be called to face the Senate on the matter once he returns to Australia.
In his absence, Mr Joyce will be represented by lawyers at the inquiry and the airline’s new CEO Vanessa Hudson and Qantas chairman Richard Goyder will be questioned again on Thursday after a grueling hearing on Wednesday.
Former Qantas CEO Alan Joyce (pictured left with husband Shane Lloyd) will not join a Senate inquiry into how the airline was protected from foreign competition
On Wednesday, Senator McKenzie reiterated the coalition’s inference that the decision to support the Voice Yes campaign was a kind of quid pro quo in exchange for the Albanian government’s rejection of Qatar Airways.
Qantas showed its support for Indigenous Voice to Parliament in August by adding a Yes design to the side of three of their aircraft.
Ms Hudson came under particular fire from Senator McKenzie, who accused her of being unprepared to answer questions about the Yes campaign logos painted on the side of Qantas jets.
“I hope you’ll respect it: filibustering may have been the former CEO’s strategy,” Senator McKenzie said.
“I don’t appreciate it from the current one.”
Ms Hudson later insisted that support for the Yes campaign and Qatar’s bid were “completely different and unrelated positions”.
Qantas senior councilor Andrew Finch also questioned the link and asked Senator McKenzie to “elaborate”.
Senator Bridget McKenzie asked Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson whether support for the Indigenous Voice ‘Yes’ campaign was ‘quid pro quo’ as she was protected from a competitor on Wednesday
There was a tense back-and-forth between the pair, with Senator McKenzie brutally dressing down Mr Finch.
‘Guess. “When you come to a Senate inquiry, we ask the questions and you are supposed to come up with the answers,” she said.
‘A bit like not submitting a view and not having details about when you made important decisions in collaboration with the government only shows a lack of respect.’
The committee ultimately found that the decision to support the Yes campaign was made by Mr Joyce in consultation with the group’s management committee, and not by the airline’s board.
Ms Hudson insisted she was not involved in talks with Labor over Qatar’s bid and only learned of the decision to block it through the media.
“We were not informed formally or informally… the feedback I got was that there was no informal conversation, and we found out through the media,” Ms Hudson said.
Earlier, Ms Hudson reiterated her apology to consumers and stakeholders, starting her appearance at the inquiry with another ‘sorry’.
“There have been times when we have let the wider Australian public down and we understand why people are frustrated and also why some have lost confidence in us,” she said.
Qantas Chief Executive Officer Vanessa Hudson (pictured right) and chairman Richard Goyder (pictured left) had a torrid time at the Senate inquiry
‘As the new CEO. I am determined to solve that.’
Qantas chairman Richard Goyder, who is facing calls to resign in the wake of a High Court ruling that the airline illegally dismissed 1,700 ground staff, was also under fire for his previous comments about Mr Joyce.
Mr Goyder had previously claimed Mr Joyce was Australia’s best CEO.
He told the committee he would not leave Mr Joyce, despite understanding Qantas has “some work to do to rebuild trust”.
“I think Alan Joyce has done an excellent job as CEO in a demanding industry over the last 15 years,” he said.
As for calls for him to resign, Mr Goyder argued that Qantas shareholders did not want him to resign.