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Monday, 3 March 2014
Page: 1315

Aviation


Ms GAMBARO (Brisbane) (14:02): My question is to the Prime Minister. How can the government reduce the costs faced by the Australian aviation industry?


Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (14:02): I thank the member for Brisbane for her question. I assure her that, as far as the government is concerned, there should be no talking down of a great Australian airline. Qantas is a great Australian airline. It is an airline with a great past and an airline which should have a great future. Australians love to travel. We love to travel domestically; we love to travel internationally. The market for Australian travel should increase as the years go by. This means there is absolutely no reason, whatsoever, why Qantas and all other Australian airlines should not have a great future, except for the shackles that legislation has placed not just on Qantas but on all Australian airlines. I refer particularly to the carbon tax—the tax that members opposite said was never going to happen; the tax that members opposite said had been terminated in the middle of last year. That tax is so terminated that last financial year Qantas paid $106 million in carbon tax; Virgin paid almost $50 million in carbon tax and even Rex paid more than $2 million in carbon tax. The best thing that this parliament can do for the airline industry right now is axe the tax. I will quote Virgin CEO John Borghetti, who is someone who knows a bit about airlines. He works for Virgin but he has worked for Qantas. He said:

… the best assistance the government and the opposition can provide is the removal of the carbon tax, which has cost this industry hundreds of millions of dollars. To that end, I just say we applaud the government's position on this.

There is something that this parliament can do today. There are bills in the Senate right now that are specifically directed not at the overall repeal of the carbon tax but at repealing the carbon tax on airlines. I know that the Leader of the Opposition likes the carbon tax, generally, but if he wants to help the airline industry he should let us pass those bills that will take the carbon tax off the airlines. I am happy to work with the Leader of the Opposition to free the airline industry from the carbon tax today. I would like to free everyone from the carbon tax, but let us work together on just this one thing—that is, to look after the jobs at Qantas by taking the carbon tax off the workers there.