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Monday, 3 March 2014
Page: 1315


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:05): Talking of someone who talks about airlines, does the Prime Minister agree with the Treasurer's statement that there is a significant community benefit in having a national carrier?

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (14:05): Of course I agree with the Treasurer! There is never a moment when I do not agree with the Treasurer.

Mr Husic interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Chifley will desist.

Mr ABBOTT: I tell you what, does the Leader of the Opposition agree with his shadow minister that the government is the major shareholder in Qantas? Does the Leader of the Opposition agree with his shadow minister that the Commonwealth has a majority share in Qantas? This is not something that the shadow minister said in 1994; he said it today.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order on relevance.

The SPEAKER: Has the Prime Minister concluded his answer?

Mr Abbott: I am happy to keep going.

Mr Burke: If the Prime Minister is going to continue he should be directly relevant. He clearly is not. He knows that questions are asked of the executive, not by the executive.

The SPEAKER: It was a pretty broad-ranging question. It simply asked if the Prime Minister agreed with the Treasurer.

Mr ABBOTT: Madam Speaker, I was asked about disagreements between party leaders and their frontbenchers, and here is a classic case—a classic case of a senior frontbencher who has not realised that two decades have gone by since the Labor Party sold Qantas lock, stock and barrel into the private sector. He is still living in the good old days of state-owned airlines. We are not.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, on a point of order: is the Prime Minister even going to pretend to abide by the standing orders?

The SPEAKER: We have already had a point of order on relevance.

Mr Burke: I know, but we have not had a ruling in accordance with the standing orders.

The SPEAKER: There is no point of order. I have already said it was a very broad-ranging question.

Mr ABBOTT: Unlike members opposite, who are completely clueless when it comes to the facts of the aviation industry in this country, we will make sure as far as we humanly can that we give all the airlines of this country the support they need to keep going, and the best support we can do is to take the carbon tax off them—a $100 million a year hit on the workers of Qantas. The Leader of the Opposition supports it but we oppose it and we will free the workers of Qantas from this $100 million a year tax on their jobs.