4 March 2014: KAP Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter today has launched a scathing attack on the “free skies” policy, which has seen the destruction of our nation’s airline, Qantas, following the Federal Government’s announcement to repeal the part of the Qantas Sale Act which restricts foreign ownership.
“The Government is so obsessed with selling the airline overseas & little interest in the workers who arethe company – not the fat corporates that run the company.
“Qantas, to date, belonged to the Australian people.
“Once again, incompetent Government is flogging it off to foreigners – who are already running the company,” Mr Katter said.
Mr Katter announced that he will introduce a law to re-define an “Australian” airline to ensure that if you are an Australian operator, the airline is majority Australian owned and the workers are based in Australia.
“Only an Australian airline has access to foreign ports under international access agreements, for example Lufthansa is allowed into Sydney so long as the Australian carrier is allowed into Berlin.
“The current definition allows Virgin access to all of our international ports even though Virgin with all of its maintenance and jobs offshored, under any definition could not be described as an Australian airline.
Mr Katter stated that Australia should be following in America’s footsteps, as America has implement that Jones Act which controls all coastal shipping and stipulates that the vessel must be (a) American built, (b) 100% American crude, (c) 100% American owned and finally 100% American built and maintained.
“Clearly a tiny country like Australia cannot sustain two airlines going into overseas ports.
“Clearly if one wants to persist with the impossible economics of having two supposedly Australian airlines then at least they should compete on a level playing field.
“Virgin who does all of their maintenance overseas and does not qualify as an Australian airline unless they move their jobs back to Australia.
“The last thing we want is to see so called “Australian” airlines off-shoring jobs and maintenance work.
“Let them move the jobs back to Australia; let’s have a fair dinkum level playing field,” said Mr Katter.
“Even if you lack any scantily of patriotism, as do our major party politicians, every Australian would prefer their maintenance to be done by someone on $75,000 per year instead of someone on $30,000 per year.
“A big question mark hangs over the maintenance ability of those people who are paid peanuts for their work,” Mr Katter said.
In February 2013, Mr Katter introduced legislation into the Australian Parliament which ensures that Australian airlines can only access domestic flights and ports by meeting a definition of “Australian”; namely that the airline conducts at least 80 per cent of its aircraft maintenance in Australia and that airline crews must reside in Australia.