TBH, I looked into that offer and it wasn’t as sweet as it seemed. Yes, the point needed at 48000 return to LAX was very good, but they charge $680 in taxes and surcharges. That promo was for economy class only.
I just looked at VA’s ticket BNE to LAX, 1 adult and 2 children for next April school holiday was $2695.08 for direct flight, and $2609.01 via Sydney on the return leg. That works out to be ~$870-895 pp! (Of course, I applied the promo code GPR23 and got 10% discount.) So that 48000 points only saves you just over $200 which I didn’t think was a good deal.
Ok, to answer your question. VA don’t really put fuel surcharges on their redemptions and the tax to LA is probably just over $100. There isn’t that much profit margin, so VA has never done a discount that big (and probably will never), they usually just do 15% discount.
Also note that VA doesn’t fly to Europe themselves, but codeshared with Etihad and Singapore airlines. VA has to “buy” tickets from them for award seats (even though at a huge discount that’s not accessible to the public), so they almost never offer discounts on partner awards. (I said almost, because you never know what will happen).
But don’t feel bad that you missed out the Qantas offer. As I analyzed above, it’s really a false advertisement and the devil is in the details. They charge more on surcharges. (It’s like some ebayers, sell iPhone for $200, but shipping is $800). It’s better value to buy revenue tickets.