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Transcript of Doorstop interview: Canberra: 13 October 2011: Qantas Industrial Action

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Minister for Resources and Energy, Minister for Tourism

Doorstop - Canberra - Qantas Industrial Action 13 October 2011


QUESTION: You’ve been at this tourism conference today, you’ve got all these strike actions that Qantas staff are considering. What damage is that doing to the tourism industry?

FERGUSON: I think the message I’ve got from the industry is that their patience is running out. Tourism in Australia depends on a viable, strong aviation sector. The sooner the parties get in a room and sort it out the better. If they don’t then there are options for the Government to actually require the parties to resolve these issues under the umbrella of the Fair Work Act. I might also say as a former union official, I had a long-term engagement in negotiations with business. I regard the comments of people like Mr Purvinas from the Licensed Aircraft Engineers in recent days as un-Australian and a sad reflection on his leadership of the Licensed Aircraft Engineers. You can have a dispute with employers but there is a responsibility on trade union leaders to never set out to damage Australian industry, not only Qantas but in doing so many struggling small and medium sized Australian tourism businesses who are doing it exceptionally tough with the strong Australian dollar and I might say who employ workers on far lower wages and conditions than licensed aircraft engineers employed by Qantas.

QUESTION: Now the unions are saying that the Qantas executives should consider their own pay packets given that they won’t agree to the pay rises that various Qantas staff want.

FERGUSON: Well if you actually go through the pay packets of for example Mr Joyce, it’s on the public record, it’s effectively what he earned as the CEO of Jetstar some years ago. And I also indicate that it is about time the parties sat in a room and sorted these issues out rather than continuing to throw brick backs at one another publicly. They have a responsibility to think about the broader national interest. Parts of my portfolio are doing exceptionally good at the moment in terms of resources and energy. The tourism

part of my portfolio is really doing it tough. Against the odds we’ve got an increase in international visitation and we are holding our own domestically. A lot of Australians are doing exceptionally well at the moment and they are going overseas more and more. The last thing we can do is damage our reputation both domestically and internationally with respect to what is currently going on in the aviation industry.

QUESTION: And on migration are you satisfied that it appears that offshore processing is off the agenda?

FERGUSON: Come on next question. That will do you. OK.

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