Facing allegations of being too close to Qantas, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has sought to turn the tables, launching a sensational question time attack on the former Coalition government.
The opposition has accused the government of being “too close” to the national carrier and has sought to probe whether Qantas lobbied Transport Minister Catherine King before she decided to block Qatar’s bid to increase its flight offerings to Australia.
Hit with a question about when he’d last hosted former Qantas boss Alan Joyce at either of his formal residences, or on-board his private plane, Mr Albanese hit out at Opposition Leader Peter Dutton for spreading “lies”.
Coalition backbencher Melissa Price asked Mr Albanese when he had last welcomed Mr Joyce at Kirribilli House, the Lodge or on-board his private plane and whether the pair had discussed Qatar’s bid at that time.
Mr Albanese became visibly fired up, positing that any questions about being too close to the airline should be reserved for former prime minister Scott Morrison.
“The question should go to the member for Cook because (Mr Joyce) has never been at Kirribilli or the Lodge on my watch, not once,” Mr Albanese said.
“Last time he was there, Scott Morrison was the prime minister of Australia.”
Mr Albanese chastised Mr Dutton for going on radio last week to spread the “lie” before turning to attack the former Coalition government for being too close to Qantas.
“They sided with Qantas when it grounded its fleet in 2011 and knocked out its workforce, we stood up for the workforce,” Mr Albanese said.
“They sided with Qantas when its major competitor Virgin collapsed into administration in 2020. They sided with Qantas when it sacked and outsourced thousands of its workforce. “They delivered $2.7bn in taxpayer support, including almost $900m in JobKeeper without putting in place any mechanism to get any funding back.”
After question time concluded, Mr Albanese was forced to add to his answer, confirming that Mr Joyce had been among business figures who had hitched a ride on his private plane to Canberra after the Business Council of Australia dinner last year.
During question time, Coalition frontbencher Paul Fletcher asked Mr Albanese whether the government had received Qantas’ endorsement of the Voice referendum in exchange for blocking Qatar’s bid.
Seemingly incredulous of being asked such a question, Mr Albanese said companies were backing the Voice because “they understand … that this is a good thing”.
Originally published as Anthony Albanese unleashes on Coalition after Qantas accusation
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