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Wednesday, 5 March 2014
Page: 1720

Qantas


Mr BOWEN (McMahon) (14:35): My question is to the Treasurer. Can the Treasurer confirm that, when Labor proposed in the 2009 aviation white paper that the 35 per cent and 25 per cent foreign equity restrictions be lifted, he opposed this moderate move because:

Qantas undertakes significant tasks in the national interest and … when they have majority foreign control, then it actually has an impact on the social responsibilities of those companies here in Australia.

Given the Treasurer's inconsistency, does he just view the future of Qantas as a political game?


Mr HOCKEY (North SydneyThe Treasurer) (14:36): No, it is not a political game; it is a very serious issue.

Ms Macklin interjecting

Mr HOCKEY: I will tell you—hello, you are still here. Seriously, please. In 1992, when Qantas was privatised after a merger with TAA, it was a very different airline to what it is today. In 2000, around that period, Qantas also wanted to have changes made to the Qantas Sale Act. At that time, Ansett was a full-service airline in competition with Qantas. In 2002, when the Labor Party first raised the issue of changing ownership, as a result of lobbying by Qantas—of course Ansett was not around— Qantas had a massive market share in Australia.

An opposition member interjecting

Mr HOCKEY: Listen, you might learn something. Listen!

Opposition members interjecting

Mr Bowen: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The question was not about 1992. As uncomfortable as it is for the Treasurer, it was about 2009 when he was shadow Treasurer and the position he took then. He is not being relevant to the question.

The SPEAKER: There is no point of order. It was a very wide-ranging question.

Mr HOCKEY: In 2007, there was an $11 billion bid for Qantas—an $11 billion assumed market cap of Qantas. In 2009, when I made those comments, the market cap of Qantas was $4.5 billion. Today it is $2.5 billion. In 2009, when I made those comments, Ansett had gone, Virgin was not a full-service airline and Qantas had a much bigger proportion of traffic into and out off Australia than it does today. Qantas today, compared to Qantas in 2009, is a very different airline, in a very different aviation industry. Labor does not get it. The only difference is, Labor is going back to 1992—

The SPEAKER: The member for Grayndler.

Mr HOCKEY: We are moving with the times and recognising today that Qantas is facing immediate challenges from a full-service operator in the domestic market.

The SPEAKER: The member for Parramatta

Mr HOCKEY: It is also facing an enormous amount of competition from offshore which has helped Qantas to lose a massive amount of their global market share. The fundamental point is: what about the future? And the future is about getting rid of the Qantas Sale Act 2002, getting rid of the carbon tax and letting Qantas compete on a level playing field with every other airline that is now taking market share from Qantas.

The SPEAKER: Before I could give the call to the member for McMahon, who I understand has something he wishes to table, the wall of noise coming from my left will not be tolerated. Should it persist, there will be many who will leave the chamber. Member for McMahon, do you wish to table the document?

Mr BOWEN: Madam Speaker, I seek leave to table the transcript of a doorstop interview with the now Treasurer, the then shadow Treasurer, from 1 pm, Tuesday, 16 December 2009.

The SPEAKER: Is leave granted? Leave is not granted.