House debates

Thursday, 29 October 2020

Constituency Statements

Aviation Industry

10:12 am

Photo of Jim ChalmersJim Chalmers (Rankin, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Treasurer) Share this | | Hansard source

Two Fridays ago I went to Brisbane Airport to meet with ramp workers, ground crew, baggage handlers and cleaners who work there for Qantas. These workers, who love their jobs and work together as a family in lots of ways, are being treated really shabbily by the company and, in my view, by the government, which has left them in the lurch. What has happened here is that all of these workers, who have been trying to do the right thing when it comes to the management of their shifts during a really difficult time for the aviation sector, have been asked to bid for their jobs as the company looks to contract out their work. That is a pretty shameful way to treat these really good workers, many of whom have been there for some decades. I want to acknowledge those workers for their frankness in the way that they conveyed their views to me. I said I would represent their views, as the member for Griffith and as the member for Werriwa have, in this place. It is really important that we do. I want to acknowledge as well the Transport Workers Union: Peter Biagini, Adam Carter, Richard O'Sullivan, and, at the national level, Michael Kaine—everybody who has been speaking up for and standing up for these workers in a really important part of the economy.

The problem here is: in this country, under this Morrison government, if you work for Qantas or dnata or any of the airlines at any of our airports, you have been left in the lurch. You have been left behind. You have been left to fend for yourself in this deepest, most damaging recession in almost 100 years. But if you've got a private jet, if you're Clive Palmer or someone else with a private jet, then the government lines up to give you subsidies for flying your private jet around—in Clive Palmer's case, around Queensland, campaigning and lying about things like death taxes and the like. Doesn't that just say everything about this government, with the way that workers in the aviation sector are being treated. People with private jets, whether it's Clive Palmer or the Leppington company or others, are being subsidised at the same time as dnata workers, Qantas workers and others are being left in the lurch. It's really quite a shameful contrast, which speaks volumes about this government and what they think about workers in this country. We say to those workers at Brisbane Airport, and indeed at all airports around Australia—the regional ones as well, just as importantly—we stand with you and we want to fight for you and your ability to work hard and provide for your families. That's all you ask, and it's not too much to ask. In a country like ours, it is the job of government to have a plan for aviation, to have a plan for jobs and not to leave you behind while this Morrison government here in Canberra lines up to give subsidies to people with private jets.