SENATOR THE HON BRIDGET MCKENZIE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT
LEADER OF THE NATIONALS IN THE SENATE
SENATOR FOR VICTORIA
SENATOR DEAN SMITH
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES AND TREASURY
SENATOR FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA
8 November 2023
FINALLY ACTION ON AVIATION COMPETITION, NOW LET THE ACCC DO ITS JOB
The Albanese Government has been dragged kicking and screaming to reinstall ACCC monitoring of the aviation sector.
In response to a Private Senators Bill tabled by Coalition Senators Bridget McKenzie and Dean Smith, the Senate has been informed the Government will today, finally, send a letter of direction to the ACCC to reinstate the monitoring, 23 days after it was announced it would.
Since the Albanese Government backflipped on its decision to scrap the ACCC monitoring 3 weeks ago there has been crickets with no direction given by the Treasurer to the ACCC to hit go on the monitoring despite the ACCC Chair, Gina Cass-Gottlieb, telling a recent Senate committee it’s ready and waiting.
Senator McKenzie said the Albanese Government chose to forgo competition monitoring into what is one of the most consolidated industries in Australia, which was admitted to in the Government’s Green Paper.
“Only after the aviation Senate inquiry made the recommendation to reinstate the monitoring did the Government decide to backflip on its decision,” Senator McKenzie said.
“But making an announcement is one thing and taking action is another and this is where the Government continues to fail.
“The ACCC is on record that it is ready to re-establish the monitoring so there is no excuse for the Albanese Government to continue dragging their feet on the matter.”
Senator Smith said Labor’s delay on restoring ACCC monitoring, at a time when Australians are struggling with a dramatic rise in the cost of living, has been unconscionable.
“Air travel in Australia isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity. There can be no justification stifling oversight in an industry which is uniquely central to economic and social life in Australia,” Senator Smith said.
“While it’s clear that the Albanese Government prefers symbolism over substance, the Coalition had at least hoped that sending a small note to the ACCC was within the competence of Jim Chalmers.
“Like the Year 12’s studying for their exams across Australia, my advice is for the Treasurer to put his phone on silent, focus on the task at hand, and ignore the calls and texts from friends – in his case, the government relations team at Qantas, whose messages Labor has found so impossible to ignore in the past.”
Senator McKenzie said the ACCC monitoring needs to recommence immediately, especially given the Qantas group, including Jetstar, cancelled over 1,000 flights in September and a further 7,084 flights were delayed by more than 15 minutes, inconveniencing tens of thousands of Australians.
“The fact flight cancellations and delays remain at excessive levels show the Albanese Government is not willing to tackle Qantas to fix the problems in the aviation sector.
“The Government is more interested in blocking a Senate inquiry from asking questions to former Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce than it is in keeping airfares down for Australian families and business,” Senator McKenzie said.
“Given Qantas’ appalling Annual General Meeting last week there’s much more work to do on the behalf of Australian travellers.
“If the Minister continues to delay implanting recommendations from the aviation select inquiry the coalition will continue to do the work for her so Australians can have a more competitive, reliable, and safe aviation industry.
“The Albanese Government needs to stop running a protection racket for one airline and start listening to the needs of the travelling public,” Senator McKenzie said.