25 May 2015: KAP Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter today dubbed the Government’s proposal to remove the restrictions on cabotage in Northern Australia as potentially sabotaging domestic airlines and safety.
Cabotage is the carriage by international airlines of domestic passengers and freight between cities within another country and is restricted in most countries around the world.
Mr Katter said today that the Government’s proposal to unilaterally remove the restrictions on cabotage in Northern Australia would compromise Australian industry and jobs, with no benefit in return.
“Canberra is announcing they’re looking at cabotage, but I think they’re looking at sabotage.
“We only have one airline flying between Cairns and Townsville, and obviously if their competitor is paying their staff half of what Qantas is paying their staff, then they will break Qantas.
“And when the foreign airline comes in and they can fly onto local ports, they’ll just do that whenever a plane comes in, they won’t run a daily service, but they’ll take just enough out of the cake to prevent the locals running a daily service.
“So it will remove flights as it will cut out the profit margin of the existing operators, as they can’t operate at a loss, and the overseas airline will only fly onto major capital cities.
“So you can kiss goodbye your daily services to Cairns, Townsville and Mackay as there won’t be enough profit to run them and you’ll only get a service when the overseas airline flies in,” Mr Katter said.
Mr Katter said that the move would also affect safety.
“I believe that 30 percent of airline accidents in the world come from the ‘el-cheapo’ airlines and those that have language problems, and you’ll have both of them here.
“So you can say, ‘we’ll have cheaper airfares’, the argument used by the economic rationalists.
“But just remember if we have cheaper airfares, cheaper wages, cheaper this and cheaper that, that your children will not have jobs, because those jobs will belong to foreigners,” Mr Katter said.
Mr Katter said that already major sectors of the airline maintenance and engineering sector had moved offshore, a very serious move which would ultimately affect airline safety.
“We can with pride say that our airline – as Mr Joyce hasn’t sold it off completely yet though he’s trying –is the only airline in the world to have never had an accident.
“But with maintenance engineers being moved offshore to where they’re paid $15,000 a year, do you think you’ll have safe aeroplanes?
“I think that every decent Australian should be fighting like a tiger against the further undermining of our society by these changes,” Mr Katter said.
For more information or a comment from Bob Katter please contact Kelly Thompson 0418 840 243