Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has defended the state government’s possible bid for a stake in failed airline Virgin Australia.
Qld announced on Wednesday, 13 May that it is eyeing a possible bid for a portion of the carrier. However, there has been criticism from a number of quarters, including Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who called it “laughable”.
Now Palaszczuk has moved to clarify her position and give reasons for the move, saying she could not understand why people would not want to back an idea that would keep jobs in Queensland. The airline is based in Bowen Hills in Brisbane.
“It is vital that we keep jobs and tourism. That we can back an airline that is based here in Queensland, and we back the workers right across regional Queensland as well,” she said.
“And it is all the flow-on jobs as well; it’s not just the people who work at the airlines. It’s the taxis that come and pick up the tourists, the hospitality workers that drive our tourism across regional Queensland. I will always stand up for Queensland and back Queensland jobs.”
Queensland has the second highest unemployment rate in the country of 6.8%. The national average of 6.2%.
QIC will engage with the airline’s administrator
According to Queensland treasurer, Cameron Dick, the state government will engage with the Virgin Australia administrator to see if it can “get in the game”.
“Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC) will be managing our role going forward in this. But if we’re going to secure those jobs and secure a second airline for our state and nation, we’ve got to be in that fight.”
He continued: “Most importantly, this is about ensuring regional communities get the benefit of two airlines. This is a moment when governments must act to secure, support and create jobs.”
He believed the government could not stand idly by and let an airline collapse and expect regional Queenslanders to suffer.
Dutton dismisses it as a political stunt
Federal minister Dutton, who is himself a Queenslander, called it “a political stunt”. “I don’t think they can seriously believe that they are a genuine bidder,” he said.
“They are talking about buying an airline that doesn’t have any revenue at the moment and has billions of dollars’ worth of debt.”
You can see his Tweet post here:
Dick then had a poke at Dutton. “I’m not worried about him. He’s got enough trouble with cruise ships; that’s the form of transport he needs to worry about,” he said, referring to claims that Dutton’s department contributed to the failure to stop coronavirus-infected Ruby Princess passengers disembarking from the cruise ship in Sydney.You can see his Tweet here: