SENATOR THE HON BRIDGET MCKENZIE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT
LEADER OF THE NATIONALS IN THE SENATE
1 September 2023
ALBANESE GOVERNMENT IN CRISIS AS MINISTERS CAN’T GIVE A STRAIGHT ANSWER
The Albanese Government must come clean on the real reason why Transport Minister Catherine King denied Qatar Airways additional flights, a decision which would have seen huge benefits for the tourism and aviation industry and the travelling public.
Shadow Minister for Transport, Senator Bridget McKenzie said the Government’s obfuscation must end now, following Defence Minister Richard Marles claiming a seventh reason “why” on breakfast television today.
“Since Minister King announced the decision to block Qatar Airways request for additional flights the Government have fumbled seven different excuses, five from Minister King alone.” Senator McKenzie said.
Here are the 7 reasons Albanese Government Ministers have used to explain why they blocked Qatar’s request:
Reason 1 – Human rights.
Reason 2 – Decarbonising the sector.
Reason 3 – Protecting Qantas jobs.
Reason 4 – New Qantas planes.
Reason 5 – Not in the National Interest.
Reason 6 – Keeping Qantas profitable.
Reason 7 – The Defence Minister claimed ‘Qatar have unused access right now. That’s the issue.’
Senator McKenzie said despite pressure from the tourism industry, from travel companies, other airlines, and producers the Government continues to run a protection racket for Australia’s single most profitable airline.
“The Government knows allowing additional flights would reduce the cost of air travel in this country but refused to do so in order to prop up Qantas’ profits,” Senator McKenzie said.
Qantas’ FY23 profits are underpinned by record breaking international earnings over the six months to June 2023 more than double the previous record set in 2015.
“Australians are in a cost-of-living crisis and all the Albanese Government has on their mind is protecting a private airline, not the citizens they serve.
“Minister King should be taking the advice of former Deputy PM, and current Labor Party President, Wayne Swan and review the Qatar decision.”
International airfares are currently 50% higher and seat capacity is 25% lower today than prior to the global pandemic according to the latest official data. The Qatar proposal would have delivered up to an extra 1,000,000 seats per year putting an immediate downward pressure on airfares.
“More seats, means more competition and that is what we need to help bring down airfares,” Senator McKenzie said.
“On 10 August, I lodged an Order for the Production of documents in the Senate to make public the advice the Government used to reject the Qatar application and today I lodged OPD’s for the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the Minister for Trade and Tourism, to release what advice they received in respect to the Qatar Airways application.”
“I look forward to getting the real reason why this decision was made out to the Australian public.”