ABC NEWS RADIO
THURSDAY, 25 JUNE 2020
GLEN BARTHOLOMEW, HOST: Catherine King, she is the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport in the Federal Parliament and joins us now. Good evening to you.
CATHERINE KING, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Good to be with you Glen.
BARTHOLOMEW: Do you share the Prime Minister’s pain?
KING: Well, of course any job loss is incredibly disappointing, but I think workers at Qantas, and workers across the economy, don’t want to just hear the Prime Minister’s regret. They want to know what he’s going to do to help keep their jobs, and I think it is becoming increasingly untenable for the Government to be sitting on this JobKeeper review until July 23, when you’ve got businesses like Qantas today making substantial decisions about what’s going to happen for the next financial year.
BARTHOLOMEW: Should Qantas have waited for that review to be announced, isn’t it up to them?
KING: Clearly not, clearly they couldn’t wait for that and they obviously haven’t got a great deal of confidence in the Government extending JobKeeper. I hope the Government, if it is going to extend JobKeeper, it shouldn’t be sitting on that announcement. It actually does need to provide some surety to certainly the aviation industry today because we are going to see further job losses, and we are going to see further route losses, I think that’s what’s going to happen in the aviation industry both through Qantas and with Virgin. We’ve been really frustrated, frankly, right from the start of this it has been clear that aviation was hit first and hit hardest. And the Government rather than the rhetoric that it’s taking a sector wide approach hasn’t been doing that, it’s been taking a very piecemeal approach to this sector overall. Our view, very firmly, is if we want to have two strong, competitive airlines in Australia, then the Government’s going to have to intervene a bit more than it has done to date to actually ensure that that’s going to happen. Now I’ve been saying that, as has Anthony Albanese and others, for months now, and unfortunately what we’re seeing is the result of a piecemeal approach to aviation and really a lack of deep understanding of what’s actually happening in this sector.
BARTHOLOMEW: The Prime Minister has flagged that the Government may be likely to offer some more support to Australian airlines. He says the details though, are still being worked through, here he is.
– GRAB OF PRIME MINISTER–
PRIME MINISTER: We know that those sectors that continue to be significantly affected will need continued support, and so we’re just working through the best way to target and deliver that support, whether it’s through JobKeeper or other measures.
BARTHOLOMEW: So your point is what, now would be a good time?
KING: Well, now would be a good time. If you’re going to extend JobKeeper or some other form to the aviation sector, let’s not wait until we have 6,000 people who lose their jobs and the families that rely on them lose that support, do something now. This is not a surprise that the aviation industry is in trouble. You know, we’ve had to shut down our borders, the health crisis meant that that’s what we needed to do, and the length of this crisis, obviously, is causing more and more problems for players in the market of aviation that went in fairly strongly, let alone those that went in a little weaker into this crisis. The Government needs to actually do something now, I just don’t think it should be sitting on its hands. We’ve seen it did that with Virgin. My view very firmly was that they shouldn’t have allowed Virgin to fall into voluntary administration, but they decided that a market-based solution was going to be the answer, well, sometimes you got to be a bit careful what you wish for, and I think we’re going to see more job losses in the aviation industry in the coming weeks, and I think we’re going to see a substantial loss of services and that’s because the Government has decided that the market is going to hold sway here. If it’s going to intervene it does need to intervene now.
BARTHOLOMEW: Federal Transport Minister Michael McCormack says the Government will maintain close contact with Qantas as it considers further support for the ailing aviation industry. As you say we’ll wait and see what form that might take. Catherine King, thanks for joining us.
KING: Really good to be with you Glen.