Qantas is making a big effort to have the various state border restrictions eased and has embarked on a lobbying campaign to MPs, as well as starting a public petition.
But in Queensland a number of politicians are less than impressed and have heavily criticised the airline and, in particular, its CEO Alan Joyce.
Qld Deputy Premier is very outspoken
Qld Deputy Premier, Steven Miles, has gone in strongly and accused the airline boss of unfairly taking advantage of overseas-based Australians who are desperate to return home.
“These companies and their chief executives obviously have a right to further their economic interests of the companies, but the government has a responsibility first and foremost to take care of the health and the jobs of Queenslanders, and that is what we will continue to do,” he said.
“Can I just say, if the boss of Qantas wanted to do more and show compassion for Australians, then he wouldn’t be gouging them tens of thousands of dollars just to come home.
Other state politicians are also unhappy
“He would be working with the government to get them home, rather than attacking us on the front page of the paper,” he added.
But some media have been quick to point out, though, that Qantas has not operated international commercial flights for several months now and its repatriation flights were sponsored by the federal government.
Other Queensland politicians, who have been recipients of a Qantas letter sent to all state and federal MPs recently, have also criticised the airline’s efforts to get border travel restrictions eased.
Relaxed rules would suit airline’s business
State Labor MP for Cairns, Michael Healy, is one of those who has rejected the Qantas plea.
“Anybody can lobby and anyone expresses their views,” Healy told the Australian Financial Review.
“But they’re a publicly listed, commercial enterprise. They are pushing for a relaxation of the border restrictions because it would suit them and their business.
“The Government will make its recommendations and decisions based on the best medical advice, not commercial interests,” he added.
Strong health response keeps economy open
Scott Stewart, the state Labor MP for Townsville, had similar sentiments in his interview.
“We’ve been able to keep our economy open only because of our strong health response,” he said. “A weak health response would risk Queensland’s economy.”
In its public petition, Qantas calls for “decisions on domestic border closures to be risk-assessed against an agreed set of medical criteria and a shared definition of what constitutes a COVID hotspot”.