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Transcript of interview with Wendy Kingston: Nine News Afternoon Edition: 31 October 2011: QANTAS

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Interview on Nine News Afternoon Edition - QANTAS

Tuesday 1 November 2011 Transcript

Senator the Hon Chris Evans [link:/evans]

Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations • Leader of the Government in the Senate •

Nine News - Afternoon Edition Channel Nine, Sydney 5.03PM 31 October 2011

ISSUES: Qantas

WENDY KINGSTON: The Prime Minister has spent the day defending the way her government has handled this Qantas crisis. We’re joined now by the Minister for Workplace Relations, Senator Chris Evans. Senator, thank you for your time this afternoon.

CHRIS EVANS: My pleasure.

WENDY KINGSTON: Now, the Opposition says you could have stepped in before this dispute had even started. Why didn’t you?

CHRIS EVANS: Well the Act allows parties to negotiate and bargain and part of that process is that they’re allowed to take protected industrial action. But what we saw on the weekend is a massive scale-up of that action. When Qantas decided to lock out its employees and ground its airline, this took that dispute to a whole new level and, quite frankly, we saw terrible disruption to travellers and that’s when the Government decided

that we had to step in. And we got the orders from Fair Work Australia that ended the industrial action and that’s a good thing for the general public.

WENDY KINGSTON: So, who do you blame for this: Qantas or the unions?

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CHRIS EVANS: Well, look… It’s not really a question of blame. I’d like to see everyone act more maturely and get around the table and negotiate a settlement. But, Qantas’ decision on the weekend was extraordinary given that passengers didn’t get any notice and planes were grounded so quickly. It really did inconvenience thousands of people, leaving many distressed. But as I say, I think both sides of that argument just have to act maturely, get around a table and fix this.

WENDY KINGSTON: Just on that point of ‘given any notice’, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, he’s been forced to retract a few claims now; among them that the Government should have ‘seen the action coming’. Does that make you angry?

CHRIS EVANS: Well, look, I was very shocked when he rang me to say they were about to take this action. He has always said previously that they had wanted to negotiate a settlement with the unions; that they had not asked us to intervene, they had not been seeking our help to intervene and so, for them to go from that to a lock-out within days without any change in the circumstances, was a huge, a huge escalation and I don’t think an appropriate decision. And so we’ve been disappointed and shocked by what occurred.

WENDY KINGSTON: Alright. Senator Chris Evans, thanks for joining us on the Afternoon, this afternoon- appreciate it.

CHRIS EVANS: My pleasure.

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