While a Senate Committee report into the Air Navigation and Civil Aviation Amendment (Aircraft Crew) Bill 2011 and the Qantas Sale Act Amendment (Still Call Australia Home) Bill 2011 has avoided addressing the difficult issues facing Australian aviation, Senator Nick Xenophon’s dissenting report offers important recommendations that must be acknowledged by the government, the Australian and International Pilots Association said today.
AIPA Vice President Captain Richard Woodward said it was disappointing that the majority Senate Committee report had failed to consider important amendments to the Still Call Australia Home Bill, which addressed initial concerns of unviability.
However, he noted that the dissenting report, endorsed by Senator Xenophon and Senator Madigan, contained important recommendations that showed the way forward.
“It is unfortunate that the majority report has essentially ducked the key problems that need to be addressed in Australian aviation,” Captain Woodward said.
“The Still Call Australia Home Bill would have ensured that the national interest was served while at the same time allowing Qantas to thrive. It is curious that while the federal government is introducing laws to ensure the ongoing viability of the Australian shipping industry, the Australian aviation industry seems to be a somewhat of a blind spot.
“Senator Xenophon’s dissenting report, on the other hand, attempts to find solutions and for that reason it needs to be acknowledged and acted on by government.
“The dissenting report recognises that the Qantas Group has been using Asian cabin crew on what are, in effect, Australian domestic routes. These workers are paid just a fraction of the Australian minimum wage, despite performing work – in Australia – that has traditionally been performed by Australians.
“The Qantas Group has been able to get away with this by ‘tagging’ international flights that come into Australia with an international flight code, despite those flights operating on domestic routes once in the country.
“Flight codes are the only means used to judge whether a flight is international or domestic, which is highly problematic, seeing as those codes are designated by the airline itself.
“Self-regulation is self-delusion. Senator Xenophon’s dissenting report would address this ridiculous and damaging situation by making sure domestic flights are recognised as such.
“We know current management at Qantas is intent on outsourcing the jobs of Australian Qantas workers to Asia. Senator Xenophon’s recommendation in this area would prevent them from hollowing out the Flying Kangaroo in this country.”
Richard Woodward (AIPA) 0416 030 529, Anil Lambert (Mountain Media) 0416 426 722