On Tuesday 6 September 2022, I made a speech in Federal Parliament calling on the government to consider re-nationalising Qantas. You can watch the speech here or read the full transcript below.
E WATSON-BROWN: The privatisation of Qantas back in the 1990s, Labor's decision under Keating, was meant to deliver more innovative and more efficient service. Cheaper flights for customers, better outcomes for everyone—that was the mantra. And it was nonsense. Now the chickens are coming home to roost.
Many people would have experienced Qantas's delays, lost baggage and cancellations lately. In June only 60 per cent of Qantas flights arrived on time. Could it have something to do with the fact that during the pandemic, and despite receiving JobKeeper and other public funds to the tune of $2 billion, Qantas laid off about 8½ thousand staff? Many of these were rehired only as outsourced contractors, leading to a drop in wages and conditions, and, with that, work quality and safety. So despite inflation spiking, engineers haven't had a pay rise in four years.
When Alan Joyce regularly takes home pay and bonuses of up to $24 million a year, how is a Qantas worker supposed to feel? It seems to me that privatisation has been very good for the execs and very bad for Australians, so it's only right that the workers, both the engineers and now the ground staff, are going on strike to demand better pay and conditions. And it's high time that this government admits that the privatisation of Qantas was a mistake and considers bringing it back into public ownership.