The Qantas board will be forced to reckon with human rights experts and shareholders on their complicity in the Australian government’s refugee policy at their 2019 AGM.
A resolution has been filed by the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility and 100 shareholders which calls on Qantas to:
- Review its policies and processes relating to involuntary transportation, utilising the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as a basis for the review; and
- Disclose to shareholders the results of the review, outlining any human rights risks that pose a threat to the company’s interests in the long term.
US-based asset manager Mercy Investment Services has thrown its support behind the resolution. The vote will be announced at the AGM.
Qantas has faced increasing pressure from human rights experts and community groups over the last two years over its contract with the Australian government to provide deportation and domestic transport services. The Stop Deportations To Danger campaign has high profile support from award winning journalist and author, Behrouz Boochani, hip hop goddess MIA and a growing list of prominent Australians.
A similar resolution filed by ACCR to Qantas last year was supported by 6% of investors, including Californian pension giant CalPERS and PGGM of the Netherlands.
Who will be at the AGM:
- Jacob Thomas, Queens Young Leader and Human Rights Advocate
- Brynn O’Brien, Executive Director, ACCR
- Dhakshayini Sooriyakumaran, Director of Human Rights at ACCR
Friday 25 October 2019
Theatre, Adelaide Entertainment Centre, 98 Port Road, Adelaide, SA 5007
Jacob Thomas, Queens Young Leader and Human Rights Advocate (they/them):
“Qantas recently participated in the domestic transfer of a male asylum seeker from Melbourne. He was transferred from Melbourne, a place where he was to access necessary medical care, to detention in Perth. The nature in which this transfer was undertaken is proof that Qantas may be complicit in human rights abuses of those seeking asylum in Australia.
“This AGM is an opportunity for Alan Joyce, and a much loved Australian brand, to say - we will no longer remain silent in the face of injustice and we will no longer be complicit in the inhumanity and torture that Australia's refugee policy is globally and infamously known for. Qantas has an opportunity to play its part in ending this unjust and unnecessary treatment.
“We will not be distracted. We will not stop until Qantas ends its part in the deportation of those who have sought asylum and refuge. This is not what the spirit of Australia is about.
“It is time for Qantas to step up. It is up to Qantas to decide which side of history they choose to fall to on this issue. The world is watching.
Sarah Dale, Centre Director & Principal Solicitor, Refugee Advice & Casework Service (RACS) (she/her):
"Australian immigration policies are breaking International and Human Rights Law. For as long as Qantas is involved in deportations to danger this is what they will be aligned with. I ask Qantas to consider their record on speaking out on social justice issues, and question why they are excluding people seeking protection and the refugee community from this cohort. If they truly want to stand for minority groups, they must stand for people seeking protection and refuse to deport people back to potential danger.
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Dhakshayini Sooriyakumaran, Director of Human Rights at ACCR (she/her):
“We have met with Qantas multiple times over the past 18 months, and we have reiterated our request, in the context of increasing risk of the company’s complicity in human rights violations after the federal election. While Qantas has acknowledged that deportation and transfer of refugees and people seeking asylum are one of its salient risks, it has not put in place adequate measures to address this.
“Qantas shareholders have every right to expect more from a company which states that it’s about ‘standing up for what’s right, standing up for a fair go, and about standing up for those who can’t’.
“Scrutiny by shareholders of Qantas’ role in Australia’s refugee policy is part of a global realignment of companies and investors that are funding immigration and prison infrastructure.
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