Katter calls on Albo: ‘Give Qantas back to the people

Sep 11, 2023

The “Spirit of Australia” has become a bastardized, corporate behemoth that can only be redeemed by being returned to hands of the people, Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter has said.

Following a tumultuous few weeks for Qantas, including the early departure of long-standing CEO Alan Joyce and the launch of an upto $600 million lawsuit against the airline by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Mr Katter said the formerly public-owned airline should be returned to Australians.

He is urging a forced Federal buy-out of the aviation giant, which in the 2022-23 financial year posted an annual profit of $2.47 billion.

“If returned to public ownership, these profits could be delivered directly back into the public purse and used for the benefit of the Australian people,” Mr Katter said.

“Whether those profits should be used deliver better opportunities and services to the nation or to improve affordability and access of essential air services would be a matter for the government of the day, but anything would be better than the current state of affairs.”

Mr Katter has long had a strained relation with Qantas, and other major airlines, due to his view that their “callous” corporate behaviours have disproportionately affected residents of rural and remote communities.

This includes Mount Isa, a route serviced by Qantas where one-way airfares to Townsville and Brisbane have been known to reach $1,000.

Mr Katter said, during his decade-long tenure as the local State Member, he has heard countless horror stories about the impacts of airline behaviour which include families being forced to take out personal loans just to travel to the coast to attend a loved one’s funeral.

“Airlines will take advantage of market situations where they can, and in Australia – Qantas has long been given a hallpass by the Federal Government,” he said.

“The onus is on the Prime Minister to act and act fast – the airline should never have been privatised in the first place.”

Qantas was privatised in 1993 after a 73-year history as a government-owned carrier.

It was founded in Winton, in the heartland of western Queensland, in 1920.

At present it is owned entirely by corporate and private interests, upto 49 per cent of which can be legally held overseas.