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Monday, 31 October 2011
Page: 12035


Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney) (14:43): My question is the Treasurer. I refer the Treasurer to this morning's analysis of the impact of the Qantas strike action by Bell Potter Securities: 'The impression left on foreign investors in Australian assets is a very poor one. The perception of union militancy increases equity risk premium, while the fact the incumbent government did nothing about the rolling strikes until it was forced to also reflects very poorly on Australia.' Treasurer, when were you first made aware of the grounding of the Qantas planes and what did you do to try and prevent it?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:44): The most important thing you must do when you are handling an industrial dispute is put the national interest first, and that is what this government has done. When the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport was informed of their decision, which they said was non-negotiable, he rang me—he rang the Treasurer—and I then spoke to him. I subsequently spoke to the Prime Minister and to a number of other ministers to bring them together and to put in place the swiftest possible action that we could, given the threat to our national economy. So we acted as soon as we possibly could, we acted within the law of the land and we acted with a genuine desire to resolve this dispute.

I know that those opposite want to take sides in a dispute. We know that they always take one side when they are talking about industrial relations, and we know they never take the side of the workers. But what we will do on this side of the House is work in an even-handed way within the industrial relations system to make sure that both the employers and the employees are heard, and we will do that in the national interest.