Monday, 11 September 2023
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. Did the Prime Minister or his office provide any direction, information or advice to Minister King or her office at any time prior to the minister's decision to block Qatar Airways' application for additional flights?
I thank the deputy leader for her question. This was a decision to change nothing that occurred, and one of the things that I do, as Prime Minister, is not appoint myself to other jobs. I trust my ministers to make decisions. I'm not also the transport minister. I'm not also the Treasurer. I'm not also the education minister. I'm not also the health minister.
Let's have a look at what this decision is. Look at the history. See if you see a pattern here. In 2007, Qatar Airways had seven flights, as a result of a decision by Mark Vaile, the then minister, to the gateway airports, which is where the Airservices agreements came from. In 2009, that went to 14 flights as a result of a decision that I made. So it went from seven to 14. In 2015 it went to 21 flights.
Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order, on relevance. The Prime Minister was asked: did the Prime Minister or his office provide any direction, information or advice to Minister King or her office at any time prior to the minister's decision in relation to Qatar. Now, Mr Speaker—
To the point of order, the question, as it was just read out by the Leader of the Opposition, goes to what the chronology was before the decision was made. That's what it asks for and that's what the Prime Minister is providing.
I want to deal with this issue, as I suspected it would come up again today. My role is to interpret the standing orders as they are written. It's not to vouch for any accuracy or a yes/no answer about what is required or what would be desired. Standing order 104(a) is very clear:
An answer must be directly relevant to the question.
I repeat: it must be 'directly relevant to the question'. It does refer to 'a direct answer', as the Leader of the Opposition, I'm sure, would like, but says the answer must be 'directly relevant to the question'. The Prime Minister was asked about the decision and the time line. He is entitled to talk about the decision, but I will remind the Prime Minister to remain directly relevant to the question.
And then, from a 2018 application, after a four-year period to 2022, it went up by seven, from 21 to 28. The minister made the decision. I trust my ministers to make decisions that they're responsible for. This was the normal course of events. As a former transport minister, I know. I would have had three or four of these applications before me at any time and made decisions appropriately.