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Thursday, 6 March 2014
Page: 1900


Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (14:14): My question is also addressed to the Deputy Prime Minister. I refer to his comments in 2009, when he was opposing the white paper proposals to relax some foreign equity restrictions while keeping Qantas Australian owned. He said:

Loss of effective Australian control could leave Australia without an airline primarily committed to our interests.

What safeguards will be put in place for the Australian flying public, particularly those in regional areas? What has changed? What safeguards has he put in place for these proposals that he puts forward?

Mr TRUSS (Wide BayDeputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development) (14:14): This question was asked yesterday and was answered very well, I thought, by the Treasurer. It was also asked the previous day, when I also provided an answer that I think was very pertinent to the issues that were raised. I would suggest that the best thing for the honourable member to do would be to read yesterday's Hansard and the Hansard from the daybefore—because the answers have not changed since then.

Mr Albanese: Madam Speaker, on a point of order going to relevance: He was asked what safeguards have been put in place—

The SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat. It was a very wide-ranging question. The Deputy Prime Minister has the call.

Mr TRUSS: As I thought the Treasurer said very well yesterday, circumstances have changed substantially over the last few years. We now have very strong regional airlines that have demonstrated that even with high levels of foreign ownership—in some instances 100 per cent foreign ownership—they are able to be competitive in this country and to provide safe and reliable services. Those services have continued through good times and bad. They have been able to respond to downturns in the economy and strong periods in a way that demonstrates the sort of flexibility that a company committed to Australia will inevitably display. There is actually only one airline that is operating in Australia with one hand tied behind its back. There is only one regional airline that has one hand tied behind its back, and that is QantasLink.

We are offering the parliament the opportunity now to enable QantasLink to compete fairly and squarely with the other regional air carriers—just as we are inviting the parliament to enable Qantas to compete with Virgin and other carriers that operate in Australia. This is an opportunity to move forward and I think it is time that the Labor Party—following the decisive vote in the House of Representatives today—moved across to the Senate and allowed this legislation to pass the parliament so that Qantas can get on with building a strong future for itself.

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (14:17): I seek leave to table a media release from the Deputy Prime Minister—

Mr Pyne: Leave is not granted.