Wednesday, 23 November 2022
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government. I refer to warnings by domestic airlines that they will be forced to cut marginal flight routes and increase airfare prices as a result of the government's extreme industrial relations changes. Given regional families rely on these flight routes being accessible and affordable, can the minister guarantee there will be no impacts to regional flight routes or airfares from Labor's extreme industrial relations agenda?
I will start answering the question, and then I will pass to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, who is responsible for both the legislation and the Same Job, Same Pay policy, which I suspect the member was referring to. It has been terrific to see our airlines come back at strength. We are seeing almost 100 per cent of domestic demand coming back. That is very pleasing to see. I do note that Qantas has become very profitable and had the previous government done what we suggested and actually provide JobKeeper with an equity stake in Qantas, we would actually be making quite a bit of money at the moment. It might have been something that would be a very good idea.
But I absolutely am conscious that Qantas is in the building lobbying, as are a number of other businesses at the moment. Can I assure you, our interest is getting wages moving and is making sure that the services that are delivered right the way across the country and that the wages of regional people are actually benefiting from our industrial relations legislation. I will pass to the minister.
I don't know what someone has to do to get a question in this place. The portfolio appears to be of interest. But I don't know what it is, I don't know what it will take for those opposite to realise that it is not outrageous for the Australian workforce to want a share of profits that happen in Australia. It is not outrageous for the Australian workers to see projects, to see businesses in Australia doing well, and to ask at the same time why should they be constantly falling behind? There is nothing wrong with the Australian workforce believing that they should have a better chance of keeping up with what is happening in expenses in this country.
The point of order is on relevance: I asked for the impact on flight routes; I did not ask a question about wage rates. I asked about the impact on flight routes, and neither the previous minister nor the current one has answered that question.
One of the words that was used in the question, from my recollection, was the word 'extreme'. I will tell you what is extreme. Ten years of wages not moving is extreme. Ten years of Australians going further and further behind—that is extreme! Australian workers knowing right now that they are, in fact, now in real terms, earning less than what they were earning a decade ago. That is extreme. But that was not an accident; that was a deliberate design feature of how those opposite ran the economy. They are onto it. They know the legislation will deal with it because the shadow Treasurer's objection to the legislation is because it will get wages moving. That is his objection to it.
I will tell you what I want with flight routes: I want more Australians to be able to afford to get on a plane. I want Australians to be able to afford some of those discretionary expenses. Those opposite know the title of the bill is what it will deliver and that is what they oppose. They oppose secure jobs. They oppose better pay. We intend to deliver both.