Qantas Expert Statement


Public Statement Regarding Deportations to Danger


The position of airlines in respect of participation in forced deportations to danger is clear.

Under the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the corporate responsibility to respect human rights means taking measures to avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts. This applies regardless of the size or structure of the business, and over and above local laws.

To discharge their responsibility, airlines should not participate in deportations where there is evidence that the fundamental human rights to an adequate legal process have been denied, as well as where there is a real risk of serious, irreparable harm to an individual.

Relevant international legal and human rights standards in relation to the deportation of asylum seekers include the Refugee Convention, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention against Torture and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Given the inadequacy of Australian law and policy in upholding these standards, airlines should engage a heightened due diligence process in order to determine the potential for contribution to adverse human rights impacts before conducting any deportations as a provider of services to the Australian government.

Contribution to human rights abuses and failure to discharge their international obligations can do damage to a company’s reputation, undermine its social licence to operate, and pose material risks to a company’s financial interests.




Brynn O’Brien, Executive Director Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, member of the Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Group on Implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

Tanya Jackson-Vaughan, Executive Director, The Refugee Advice and Casework Service

Professor Gillian Triggs, former President of the Australian Human Rights Commission

Janet Holmes à Court

Rhyll McMaster, poet and author and great niece of founding CEO of Qantas Sir Fergus McMaster

Mark Seymour, Aussie rock legend

Jennifer Robinson, Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers, London

Shen Narayanasamy, Director No Business in Abuse and GetUp Human Rights Director

Thomas Keneally AO, Ambassador, Sydney Asylum Seeker Centre, novelist and playwright

Nayuka Gorrie, Kurnai/Gunai, Gunditjmara, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta writer

Professor Denise Bradley AC

Robert Henderson, Economics, Finance and Banking Consultant and formerly chief economist (markets) with National Australia Bank

Pablo Berrutti, Responsible Investment professional

Simon O’Connor, Responsible Investment professional

Matt McAdam, Responsible Investment professional

Phil Vernon, Managing Director, Australian Ethical Investment

Simon Sheikh, Managing Director, Future Super.

Terry Pinnell, Chair Ethical Advisers Co-op

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)

Michele O’Neill, President, Australian Council of Trade Unions

Sam Huggard, Secretary, New Zealand Council of Trade Unions

Luke Hilakari, Secretary, Victorian Trades Hall Council

Meredith Hammat, Secretary, UnionsWA

David Smith, National Secretary, Australian Services Union

Tim Kennedy, National Secretary, National Union of Workers

Jo-anne Schofield, National Secretary, United Voice

Paul Bastian, National Secretary, Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union

Jeanne Rea, National President, National Tertiary Education Union

Michael Thompson, NSW State Secretary, National Tertiary Education Union

Allen Hicks, National Secretary, Electrical Trades Union of Australia

Grant Phillips, Secretary, Newcastle & Northern branch, Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union

Graham Smith, Federal Secretary, Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union

Mick Nairn, President, Fire Brigade Employees’ Union

Susan Hopgood, Federal Secretary, Australian Education Union

John Dixon, General Secretary, NSW Teachers Federation

Annie Butler, Federal Secretary, Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation

Paddy Crumlin, National Secretary, Maritime Union of Australia

Michael O’Connor, National Secretary, Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union

Kate Lee, Executive Officer, Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA

Jacquie Widin, President, SEARCH Foundation

Melissa Parke, former federal member for Fremantle and Minister for International Development

Debbie Stothard, Secretary General and Coordinator, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

Associate Professor Justine Nolan, Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales, member of the Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Group on Implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

Simon Holmes à Court, Senior Advisor, Climate and Energy College, Melbourne University

Dr Shelley Marshall, Senior Research Fellow, Graduate School of Business and Law, RMIT University

Dr Julia Dehm, Lecturer, La Trobe Law School

Dr Alice de Jonge, Senior Lecturer, Monash Business School

Tessa Khan, international human rights lawyer

Rawan Arraf, human rights lawyer

Claire Palmer, barrister

Peter O’Brien, Principal, O’Brien criminal and civil solicitors

Lizzie O’Shea, lawyer and writer

Shankari Chandran, lawyer and writer

James Bradley, novelist and critic

Alison Croggon, writer and critic

Mireille Juchau, novelist

Gail Jones, novelist and professor of literature

Professor Terri-ann White FAHA, director UWA Publishing

Van T Rudd, visual artist

Andrew Bradley (Quro)

Tim “Tigermoth” Paterson – musician, artist

Alex Kelly, film maker

Andrew Garvie (DJ Katch), musician and record label director

Ben Oquist, Executive Director, The Australia Institute

Tim Hollo, Executive Director, The Green Institute

Christine Milne, Global Greens Ambassador and former Leader of the Australian Greens

Elaine Pearson, Australia Director, Human Rights Watch

Claire Mallinson, National Director, Amnesty International Australia

Madeleine Bridgett, barrister and Co-Chair Business and Human Rights Sub-Committee, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights

Keren Adams, Director of Legal Advocacy, Human Rights Law Centre, member of the Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Group on Implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

Professor Paul Redmond AM, Faculty of Law, University of Technology Sydney, member of the Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Group on Implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM, CEO, Asylum Seekers’ Resource Centre

Luke Fletcher, Executive Director, Jubilee Australia

Lyn Harrison, CEO, House of Welcome

Frances Rush, CEO, Asylum Seekers Centre Sydney

Carolina Gottardo, Director, Jesuit Refugee Service Australia

Phil Glendenning AM, Director, Edmund Rice Centre & President, Refugee Council of Australia

Paul Power, CEO, Refugee Council of Australia

Brendan Doyle, Secretary, Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group

Margaret Hughes Bennelong Friends of Refugees & Amnesty International Australia

Anthea Vogl, National Convener, Academics for Refugees

Jessie Taylor, President, Liberty Victoria

Dr Safdar Ahmed, Artist and Director, Refugee Art Project



If you hold shares in Qantas and would like to support this resolution, find out more here.

Human rights experts, business experts, investors, academics and union leaders are welcome to sign this open letter. Please email