Qantas Sale Act repeal passes House

Government legislation to repeal foreign ownership limits has passed the lower house, bill faces roadblock in Senate.

Government legislation to repeal foreign ownership limits on Qantas (QAN) has passed parliament's lower house.

MPs voted 83-53 to support the Qantas Sale Amendment Bill 2014, introduced earlier this morning.

"It's taken 94 years to build Qantas, it's taken the Abbott government 94 minutes to tear Qantas down. Shame," Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told parliament after the vote.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie voted against the bill but another cross bencher, Cathy McGowan, voted with the government.

Other crossbench opponents of the bill Clive Palmer and Adam Bandt were not present for the vote.

The bill now goes to the Senate where Labor and the Greens have the numbers to defeat the government.

The final vote came after 10 divisions as Labor sought to delay passage of the bill.

Earlier Mr Shorten, in a rousing speech, described the government as a bunch of "cheese-eating surrender monkeys", saying the bill was a waste of time and precursor to further job losses.

He also accused the coalition of being unfit to run government.

It had led Qantas up the garden path and bullied the airline into making an about-face on its request for a commonwealth-backed debt guarantee, he said.

Mr Shorten said even if the bill passed the Senate, it would take years for Qantas to overcome new regulatory processes that would allow it to raise sufficient foreign capital.

He cited the treasurer's rejection of a US bid for Graincorp last year to suggest the same would happen to Qantas.

"They can't trust Uncle Sam to buy Graincorp, what are they going to do when Chinese companies or Middle Eastern companies buy Qantas?"

Mr Shorten was forced to withdraw a remark he made about Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss.

He called him the "chief womble" of The Nationals.

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