Aviation

Clive Palmer offloads Qantas shares in protest of airline’s staff vaccination policy

Ali Coulton

Ali Coulton

Mining magnate Clive Palmer has sold all of his Qantas shares because of the airline’s mandatory vaccination policy for staff.

Palmer, who was previously the leader of the United Australia Party, posted a tweet thread on Wednesday claiming he had made the decision to sell his company’s stake in the national carrier for financial reasons.

“I believe that Alan Joyce and his board have taken risks which could result in possible future legal ramifications,’’ he said.

“I believe the financial risks Qantas is taking over mandatory vaccinations of its staff leaves them exposed to future financial damages by staff who suffer side effects or worse.”

Palmer said the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) has reported “hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of adverse reactions” from the vaccines.

However, according to the TGA’s most recent COVID-19 vaccine safety report, nine deaths have been linked to immunisation out of the 30.7 million doses in Australia since the rollout began until 10 October.

The TGA’s website advises that the benefits of vaccination against COVID-19 far outweigh the potential risks of vaccination. The most frequently reported side effects associated with the jab – a sore arm around the injection site, headache, muscle pain, fever and chills – so far reflect the clinical trials.

Qantas announced in August its frontline staff would need to be vaccinated by 15 November with all other workers required to follow suit by 31 March 2022 with “very rare” exceptions.

“This is clearly an unacceptable future financial risk Qantas and its Board are taking,” Palmer continued.

“I would encourage directors of other public companies to realise future financial exposure if staff are mandated to take vaccines which cause damages.”

A spokesperson for Qantas told Travel Weekly the airline has had “overwhelming support” from its employees and customers for its vaccination requirements.

“All domestic airlines in Australia and many overseas have since introduced similar requirements for their workforce,” the spokesperson said.

“Having a fully vaccinated workforce will safeguard our people against the impacts of COVID-19, as well as protect our customers and the communities we fly to.”

a survey from July revealed that 89 per cent of Qantas staff had already been vaccinated or were planning to be and just four per cent were unwilling or unable to get the jab.

The survey also showed that 75 per cent of staff support mandatory vaccinations and said they would be uncomfortable working with people who were not vaccinated.

A separate survey of more than 1000 Qantas customers found 92 per cent expect Qantas crews to be fully vaccinated.

On the same day that Palmer signalled he would unload the airline’s shares, Crikey reported that the United Australia Party, which Palmer now chairs, has partnered up with the country’s most active anti-vaccine group, Reignite Demoocrac Australia to campaign for the next federal election.

While Qantas may have lost Palmer’s support, the airline revealed today it has strengthened its balance sheet with the sale of $802 million worth of undeveloped land in Mascot, which it plans to use to reduce its debt and accelerate financial recovery from the global pandemic.

Qantas Group’s FY21 results revealed a $1.7 billion statutory loss after tax – a slight improvement on the $1.9 billion hit in FY20.


Featured image: Facebook/CliveFrederickPalmer


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