Alan Joyce should front up to Qatar Airways inquiry: Coalition

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Opposition frontbencher Michaelia Cash says Alan Joyce should be called to front the Coalition’s Senate inquiry into the government’s decision to reject Qatar Airways from adding more flights to Australia.

The Coalition secured the probe into Transport Minister Catherine King’s June decision with the help of the Senate crossbench on Tuesday afternoon, as the government weathers heat from the opposition and the Greens over transparency and competition in the local aviation market.

Qantas chief Alan Joyce is departing his role prematurely.Credit: Bloomberg

“Alan Joyce should be called to give evidence to the Senate inquiry into the Albanese government Qatar Airways debacle,” Cash said on Wednesday.

“We need to hear directly from him about whether he or other Qantas executives had any discussions with the prime minister or anyone from the government about Qatar Airways applying for more services to Australia.

“We need to know who from the government he lobbied and when.”

Coalition frontbencher Michaelia Cash wants Alan Joyce to appear before a Senate inquiry into the government’s Qatar decision.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

Albanese has denied having any conversation with Joyce, who departs the airline on Wednesday under a cloud of controversy, or any other executive from the airline before the decision to prevent Qatar Airways from gaining more access to the Australian market.

Albanese confirmed on Tuesday he spoke with Virgin Australia’s boss, Jayne Hrdlicka, about the government’s move, but claimed he did not know at the time that a decision had already been made.

King told parliament after question time she had made the ruling without any regard for any one company’s commercial interests.

Labor state governments in Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia have sided with Qatar on the issue, while Labor Party president Wayne Swan has suggested the decision could be reviewed.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers told ABC’s RN Breakfast on Wednesday morning that Swan, his former boss, was “entitled to his view” but the government believed its decision was correct.

He described the inquiry as the result of “the usual game playing in the Senate”.

“What we’ve seen is a decision taken in the usual way by the minister in the same way that ministers of both political persuasions have taken these kinds of decisions in the past, and so it’s a matter for the Senate how they do these sorts of things,” he said.

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