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Monday, 3 March 2014
Page: 1322


Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (14:30): My question is also directed to the Deputy Prime Minister and minister for transport. I refer to his media statement, when he said the loss of effective Australian control could leave Australia without an airline primarily committed to our interests. What safeguards will be put in place for the Australian flying public, particularly those in regional areas? I say to the Deputy Prime Minister: when will the government stop arguing among themselves and act to support Qantas and Australian jobs, particularly those in regional communities?

Mr TRUSS (Wide BayDeputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development) (14:31): I thank the honourable member for his question. We know that he does not understand the aviation legislation, but maybe he should read the Air Navigation Act which makes it absolutely clear that if you want to be a national carrier for Australia, fly international routes and exercise Australian landing rights, you have to be majority owned in Australia. So for all of our national carriers, their international arm must be majority owned by Australians. That is not only laid down in our own legislation but is also a part of the international conventions we have signed in relation to these types of issues.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Perth will desist.

Mr TRUSS: The second part of his question relates to regional Australian air services, which are not mentioned in the Qantas Sale Act. The reality is that regional aviation in Australia, the QantasLink services operated by Qantas, has been trading profitably over recent times. Rex is the only airline in Australia that actually reported a profit for the half year. It was a tiny one, but at least they reported a profit. Of course, Virgin is expanding strongly into regional areas because they also believe that regional Australia is a great place in which to operate air services. So I am confident—

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Perth is warned.

Mr TRUSS: that regional airlines, without the burden of a carbon tax, can trade profitably into the future.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Parramatta has already been warned.

Mr TRUSS: They can provide services in regional communities, and the opposition can help to make that a certainty. They can vote down the carbon tax. Get rid of the carbon tax—then Rex, Qantas and Virgin, in their regional services, will be more profitable than they are today.