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Monday, 31 October 2011
Page: 12030


Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:22): My question is to the Prime Minister. Given the damage that the Prime Minister must have known would occur to the travelling public as a result of what the government had been warned about at 2pm on Saturday, why did the Prime Minister not call the CEO of Qantas to see if the action could be averted? If she did not speak to the CEO of Qantas, has she spoken to union boss Tony Sheldon about this matter?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:22): I can only assume from the nature of this questioning that the opposition have got up this morning and read the newspapers but they have not done anything else, because they appear to be referring to an incorrect report in today's newspapers that Alan Joyce himself has today corrected on the public record. Alan Joyce has verified today that he was not seeking to speak to me on Saturday afternoon, that he contacted the government for the purpose of advising the government of the decision of the Qantas board to ground flights at five o'clock. That is the circumstance here—as much as the game playing from the opposition continues.

The SPEAKER: Has the Prime Minister concluded? The Prime Minister has resumed her seat.

Ms Julie Bishop: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I am not asking the Prime Minister about whether Alan Joyce called her; I am asking the Prime Minister why she did not call the CEO of Qantas and whether she has spoken to Tony Sheldon.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The Prime Minister has the call. She will be heard in silence.

Ms GILLARD: They are all feisty in pursuit of Work Choices again. Let me make it very clear what happened on Saturday afternoon and very directly answer the Deputy Leader of the Opposition's question. Given her noted advocacy of Work Choices, I will make sure I do answer it. On Saturday afternoon, the government was advised by Qantas that it had determined to ground the planes. The advice from Qantas was crystal clear that they had made the determination to do so. They were not consulting with the government; they were not asking the government to do anything. They were grounding the planes at five o'clock—no ifs, no buts, no maybes; they were grounding the planes. In the face of that declaration by Qantas that they were grounding the planes, the government acted. Maybe the Leader of the Opposition would have spent days and days and days in talks as people were stranded around the country. I preferred to act. I did act and, as a result, industrial action is at an end.

On the question of telephone calls to the industrial parties, I have today spoken to a number of the industrial parties and I have made it perfectly clear to them, including Alan Joyce—

Ms Julie Bishop interjecting

Ms GILLARD: and including Tony Sheldon—I thank the Deputy Leader of the Opposition—that my expectation and the expectation of the government, having successfully acted to end the industrial action and get Qantas planes back in the sky, is that the industrial parties now get around a table and get this dispute fixed. I say to those industrial parties, as I have said to them in those telephone calls and as I said not long before coming to question time at a media conference, I believe the obligation now rests equally on each of their shoulders to get around a table and get this dispute sorted. My predisposition when faced with the circumstances I saw on Saturday was to get it fixed and I have.