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Monday, 6 December 1999
Page: 12804

Mr LATHAM —I want to lend my support to the third player, Virgin Airlines, coming into the domestic aviation industry in Australia. We have two domestic airlines but only one timetable in this country. We have two domestic airlines but only one price structure for air travel. This duopoly has not produced competition. It has not brought air travel within the reach of the ordinary working family in this country. This is something that members of parliament know well. We know the lack of competition between Ansett and Qantas. I believe the third entrant is most welcome, wherever it comes from. I look forward to flying Virgin Airlines and I believe we, as members of this parliament, should show our commitment to competition and affordability in this industry not only by declaring our support but also by declaring Virgin as our preferred carrier at least until such time as it can get on its feet and provide effective competition in this important industry.

As a new entrant, it will need deep pockets and a good balance sheet. It will also need effective access to terminals around the country, and I hope that can be provided, notwithstanding the poor decision many years ago to lock up a long-term lease for Ansett and Qantas. I also note that Sydney, unhappily enough, is not likely to become the headquarters for Virgin. We do not have enough airport capacity in Sydney, and we are likely to miss out on the 300 jobs that would come from the headquarters. That is all the more reason, of course, for building Badgerys Creek airport as quickly as possible to provide jobs in Western Sydney. (Time expired)