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Transcript of interview with Glen Bartholomew: ABC News Radio: 31 October 2011: Qantas decision, mining tax

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The Hon Dr Craig Emerson MP Australian Minister for Trade and Competitiveness ABC News Radio Subjects: Qantas decision, mining tax

Transcript, E&OE

31 October 2011

GLEN BARTHOLOMEW: The Government is claiming success for its intervention in the Qantas dispute, an industrial

battle where we saw tens of thousands of passengers stranded. It will turn political when Federal Parliament resumes

in Canberra today.

To look at the political fight that's set to follow the industrial battle, Marius Benson is speaking this morning to the Trade

Minister in the Government, Craig Emerson.

MARIUS BENSON: Craig Emerson, everyone is spinning the Fair Work Australia decision. The unions and Qantas are

both saying … they're giving quite different readings of that decision; the Government claiming it as a win for its

intervention. That's your reading of the situation?

CRAIG EMERSON: Our concern has always been for the travelling public. And the termination of the dispute by Fair

Work Australia means that planes can be put back in the sky as of this afternoon. That's a good outcome for the

travelling public; it's also a good outcome for those hundreds of thousands of Australians who work in the tourism


BENSON: The Transport Workers' Union, one of the three unions key to this dispute, says it's now up to you, the

Government, to fight hard for Australian jobs. Is that how you see your task?

EMERSON: Well, always, from day one of the election of a Labor Government, we've fought hard for Australian jobs.

And we have a good record there.

BENSON: But in the specific case of these Qantas jobs: are you going to protect them? Because Qantas says, in

international terms, they're not competitive at the present numbers and present pay rates?

EMERSON: Well, Fair Work Australia has made its decision to terminate this dispute. That means no more lock-outs; it

means no more industrial action; it gives the parties 21 days to seek a resolution. And if that is progressing well - and is

not complete - there is capacity for a further 21 days. If it's not been successful then Fair Work Australia will make a

decision on all of these matters.

BENSON: Qantas is at the moment heavily protected by government restrictions on access to Australian routes. Is that

subject to review if the Government is not happy with the way Qantas is operating?

EMERSON: No, well Qantas is the national carrier, and that's the status that it enjoys under the Qantas Act, when

Qantas was first privatised. So there's no plan to change the national carrier status of an airline, because Australia

does need a national carrier. But Qantas probably should reflect on the strategy that it's adopted.

BENSON: Is it the case, as reported in the Daily Telegraph this morning, that the Government is considering allowing

foreign airlines to fly Qantas domestic routes?

EMERSON: I haven't had any indication of that whatsoever. But I think Qantas now needs to do the right thing by its

customers and get those planes in the air, and not seek to shift the blame to the Government. Qantas needs to take

responsibility for its own strategy.

BENSON: Qantas does enjoy special status as the national carrier under legislation. The unions working in Qantas say

it's not meeting its obligations under that. Is Qantas doing the right thing by its special status?

EMERSON: What we need to see now is the planes back in the sky. It's not a time for going back over all of these

issues, reviewing the performance of Qantas over the last 10 years. What we really want to see here is the

inconvenience to the travelling public and the damage to the Australian tourism and broader damage to the Australian

economy now halted.

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BENSON: Craig Emerson, can I turn to the political week ahead? Parliament is resuming this week - one of the last

sitting weeks this year. The carbon tax is expected through the Senate; but trouble with the mining tax. That may not

be getting through this year. That's the expectation. Is that your expectation?

EMERSON: Well again, let's see how the Parliamentary processes go. But we will be introducing the mining tax. This

is a very important mechanism for ensuring that the broader Australian community benefits from the mining boom.

But the Australian people will be appalled - appalled - that Mr Abbott believes the mining industry already pays too

much tax, and that he will return the revenue from the mining tax to the mining industry, rather than sharing the benefits

of the mining boom with the small business community and the broader Australian community.

BENSON: Craig Emerson, thanks again.

EMERSON: Thank you, Marius.

BARTHOLOMEW: Craig Emerson of the Government, speaking to Marius Benson.

Media enquiries

Minister Emerson's Office: (02) 6277 7420 ■

DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555 ■

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