Thursday, 6 March 2014
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. Last night, the Treasurer said, in relation to the government's policy on Qantas:
… our Plan B is our Plan A …
Why is the government's only plan for Qantas an idea that the Deputy Prime Minister has described as a waste of time and a waste of political energy?
We have got plenty of debating points from the Leader of the Opposition, but what the people of Australia want and what the workers of Qantas want is a real plan to give their airline a strong future, to ensure that Qantas remains one of the world's great airlines. There are two elements to our plan. The first is to repeal part 3 of the Qantas Sale Act, which will give Qantas exactly the same conditions that their principal rival, Virgin, faces. The other element of our plan—plan B, if you like—is to repeal the carbon tax. That is our plan B. Plan A is to repeal part 3 of the Qantas Sale Act; plan B is to repeal the carbon tax, because the carbon tax has been a $106 million hit on jobs at Qantas in the last financial year and it has been a $58 million hit on jobs at Qantas in the current half year. That is the truth.
So members opposite—and I accept that they want, in their own way, to help the workers of Qantas—want to help the workers of Qantas, but they oppose the means of helping them. They will the end, but they do not permit the means. That is the problem, because the only way to help Qantas right now is to get rid of the shackles that are holding it back, and that means repealing the sale act and repealing the carbon tax. That is the very best thing that the Leader of the Opposition could do for the workers of Qantas right now. I say: let us help Qantas. And I say to the Leader of the Opposition: just have the position today that you wanted to have in 2009 when you wanted to remove the 25 per cent and 35 per cent restrictions on Qantas but lost your nerve. Well, this government will not lose its nerve, and this government will never, never turn its back on Qantas. We will do what is necessary to ensure that Qantas continues to be one of the world's great airlines.