Monday, 31 October 2011
Questions without Notice
I would like to thank the member for Chisholm for her question. She, like every member of the government, is animated by the national interest, and of course the way in which the government approached the Qantas lockout of its workforce reflects the commitment of the government to ensure the national interest of people and the economy is upheld.
On Saturday afternoon, mid-afternoon, the government was notified by Qantas that they would lock out their workforce from 8 am Monday morning—that is, baggage crew, ramp crew, caterers, licensed engineers, international pilots and short-haul pilots; however, they said that, because they were going to lock their workforce out from 8 am Monday morning, all planes would have to be grounded from 5 pm on Saturday. All planes in the air would be allowed to finish that leg and thereafter 155 planes would be grounded, not by the unions but by the management of Qantas, and 140,000 passengers around the world and throughout Australia, because of industrial action by one of the parties in a negotiation, were forced to have their plans inconvenienced, business trips inconvenienced, the tourism industry of one million people inconvenienced, families wanting to be reunited visiting sick relatives inconvenienced. What the government did was take appropriate steps under section 424 of the Fair Work Act to immediately make an application to terminate the industrial action and, in the alternative, if the tribunal did not find favour with that application, suspend the industrial action. All through the evening of Saturday night, senior representatives of the department of transport and the department of tourism attended these hearings and the evidence went—