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Thursday, 6 March 2014
Page: 1897


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:05): My question is to the Prime Minister of Australia, who I am sure is proud of the enviable safety record of Qantas, the world's safest airline. Does the Prime Minister accept that the enviable safety record of Qantas is in no small part due to the professionalism, the hard work, the commitment and the expertise of its Australian based maintenance crews?

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (14:06): I absolutely accept that Qantas has a fine safety record, perhaps the best safety record in the world. Obviously I am very grateful to the workers who are responsible for that. I am proud of them, as I am proud of Qantas. But Virgin is a safe airline as well. Is the Leader of the Opposition suggesting to this House that Qantas is safe and other airlines are not? What is the Leader of the Opposition suggesting here? Is he suggesting that the Qantas Sale Act is somehow responsible for Qantas's safety? Is that what the Leader of the Opposition is suggesting?

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: There will be silence while we hear the Prime Minister's answer. The question has been asked. The answer is being given.

Mr Shorten: Madam Speaker, I seek your guidance: on a number of occasions, the Prime Minister keeps asking questions and I am happy to answer them.

The SPEAKER: There is no point of order. The member will resume his seat. There is only one relevance allowed on each question.

Mr ABBOTT: The Leader of the Opposition is trying to suggest that it is the Qantas Sale Act that is responsible for the Qantas safety record. The Leader of the Opposition is trying to suggest that without the restrictions that exist under the Qantas Sale Act an airline cannot be safe. This is a most reckless and irresponsible suggestion from the Leader of the Opposition. Qantas is safe. I am proud of Qantas. I am proud of the workers. Virgin is safe. I am equally—

Mr Danby: What about China Southern?

The SPEAKER: The member for Melbourne Ports will withdraw.

Mr Danby: Madam Speaker, my comments were about the safety record of China Southern compared to Qantas. I see no need to withdraw.

The SPEAKER: In that case, he can remove himself under 94(a).

The member for Melbourne Ports then left the chamber.

Mr Albanese: Madam Speaker, on relevance: the question went to whether Qantas's safety record was related to its workforce—

The SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat. Has the Prime Minister finished his answer? We had the Leader of the Opposition attempting a point of relevance. We can only have a question.

Mr Shorten interjecting

The SPEAKER: We do not have guidance under standing orders. It was a good intervention. It was a good try. The Prime Minister has indicated he wishes to continue his answer. He will direct his remarks to the question.

Mr ABBOTT: In this country we are blessed with two outstanding airlines: Qantas and Virgin. They both have outstanding safety records—and Rex, also a great airline with a great safety record. The point I wish to make is that Qantas's safety record does not depend upon the Qantas Sale Act, and it is reckless of the Leader of the Opposition to suggest that it does.