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Wednesday, 5 March 2014
Page: 1711

Qantas


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:05): My question is to the Prime Minister. Since Monday night's cabinet meeting, what communication has the Prime Minister or his office had with Qantas to pressure them to modify the statement they made on Monday that the major issue facing Qantas is not related to carbon pricing?

The SPEAKER: The latter part of that question was more in the nature of a statement, but I will let the first part stand.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Could I have some silence on my left.




Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (14:05): Typically, it was more in the nature of a smear than a statement. But I can tell the Leader of the Opposition that there has been no contact whatsoever between me and my office and Qantas along the lines that the Leader of the Opposition suggests. Just for the benefit of the Leader of the Opposition, it is worth reminding him of what members opposite used to think when they were in government. We had a very interesting report in The Australian Financial Review by none other than Kevin Rudd's former chief of staff, who said:

The ALP should remember the … constraints the Act imposes on a company playing in an international services market.

Mr Dreyfus: What the Prime Minister is now reading from has nothing to do with the question, Madam Speaker—

The SPEAKER: What is the standing order?

Mr Dreyfus: direct relevance—and he should be returned to the question.

The SPEAKER: The member should remember that, if he is rising on a point of order, he needs to state that it is a point of order and what it is.

Mr ABBOTT: The former chief of staff to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd goes on in this morning's The AustralianFinancial Review:

Remember is the operative word. The ALP had amendments to deal with this ready to legislate in 2009.

So members opposite know that the Qantas Sale Act is a problem. They had amendments ready to go, and then they lost their nerve. But not only did the former chief of staff to the former Prime Minister, Mr Rudd, publish in TheAustralianFinancial Review this morning; he was also on Radio National this morning, and he said something very interesting: 'We had the then minister, Anthony Albanese'—that is the member for Grayndler, I believe—'who prepared changes to the sale act.'

Mr Albanese interjecting

Mr ABBOTT: There we are: the gentleman interjecting. He himself prepared changes to the Qantas Sale Act, so he knows in his heart that Qantas needs to be freed from these shackles. And the former chief of staff to the then Prime Minister, Mr Rudd, went on to say, 'We had the total support of the opposition,' and that is exactly right—

Mr Shorten interjecting

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will withdraw that remark.

Mr ABBOTT: because we have always thought that Qantas needed its freedom to compete. I do not want to see Qantas getting any special advantages. I just do not want Virgin to have the special advantage which it currently does because it is not constrained in the way that Qantas is. So please, Madam Speaker, let us have no more weak hypocrisy from this incompetent opposition.