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Monday, 3 March 2014
Page: 1319


Mr VAN MANEN (Forde) (14:17): My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer inform the House of the importance of securing the future of the airline industry and, in particular, reforming the Qantas Sale Act based on evidence?

Mr HOCKEY (North SydneyThe Treasurer) (14:17): I thank the member for Forde for the question. He is known to all of us as 'Bert the Beattie Beater'! He does care about the aviation industry in Australia, which has grown in domestic passenger numbers since 2005 by 4.5 per cent per annum and in international passenger numbers since 2005 at an average of 5.1 per cent per annum. I am glad I was asked a question by someone in this House about all my words in relation to Qantas. It is no secret that Qantas has been having some challenges over the last few years. In fact, in his recent public statement, the chief executive of Qantas recognised that they have been speaking to governments about the challenges for two years.

I came across a letter of comfort from the member for Grayndler.

Mr Albanese interjecting

Mr HOCKEY: There he is! This was a letter of comfort from the Australian taxpayers to Qantas to try and reassure the rating agencies that the government would stand behind Qantas. I bet that was not just something given out to every business in Australia. No, there must have been some reason why the member for Grayndler would write a letter like that, and I am sure he spoke to all of his colleagues. But, of course, all the problems of Qantas are a rude shock to Labor. They still think its in government ownership. The should call a shareholders meeting to address their problems!

But there is more because Labor just does not deal with the facts. Today, when I heard the member for Grayndler say, 'Part of the obligations in the Qantas Sale Act are for regional services and the regional network,' I rushed to my copy of the Qantas Sale Act and could not see anything there about it. There was nothing in the act about regional services. He was a transport minister for six years and never read the Qantas Sale Act.

But there is more. This guy over here, the member for McMahon, was the Treasurer and he went on the doors today and said, 'A debt guarantee—you don't need legislation for that.' But you do because you cannot appropriate money if you do not have legislation and you cannot give a guarantee that means anything if you do not have an appropriation. So you have a former Treasurer who does not understand the facts, a former transport minister who does not understand the facts and a frontbench that still thinks they own Qantas. The bottom line is that, as the chief executive of Virgin and the chief executive of Qantas said, the best thing you can do for the aviation industry is get rid of the carbon tax now.