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Australia’s home affairs minister says the federal government was still supportive of “competition” between airways to reduce fares for travellers in the shadow of the Qatar Airways’ decision.

A Senate inquiry into Transport Minister Catherine King’s decision to reject Qatar Airways’ bid for more flights in Australia is due to begin this week. Qantas’ controversial former chief executive Alan Joyce is expected to speak at the hearing.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said the issue had been discussed “ad nauseam” and the government had allowed other international airlines to increase their flights, such as Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines.

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“I absolutely agree competition is good and it is important that we do everything that we can to keep airfares as low as possible for Australians… the government has made decisions to allow other companies to fly in out of the country,” she told Nine’s Today.

“I would say to Qatar with great respect, there are many opportunities for them to bring more people in and out of the country.

“They can increase flights around our nation and bring more people in on the flights they are already bringing into the country.”

King is going on two weeks’ leave, arranged months ago, after a torrid fortnight of political scrutiny over her Qatar decision, inflamed by widespread resentment of Australian airline Qantas, which has been accused of having outsized influence on government decisions, which King has denied.

Last week, King claimed public interest immunity for withholding documents from parliament, stating the documents would “disclose the nature of bilateral relations with Australia’s foreign partners”.

Senator Jacqui Lambie.

Senator Jacqui Lambie.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie told Today she believed King had “not consulted and done [her] homework” when she decided to block Qatar’s bid for more flights.

“You just don’t make a decision like that off-the-cuff,” she said.

“That is ridiculous. That is a fairly big decision to make without consulting. We don’t have a reason for that.”


Australia’s home affairs minister says the federal government was still supportive of “competition” between airways to reduce fares for travellers in the shadow of the Qatar Airways’ decision.

A Senate inquiry into Transport Minister Catherine King’s decision to reject Qatar Airways’ bid for more flights in Australia is due to begin this week. Qantas’ controversial former chief executive Alan Joyce is expected to speak at the hearing.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said the issue had been discussed “ad nauseam” and the government had allowed other international airlines to increase their flights, such as Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines.

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“I absolutely agree competition is good and it is important that we do everything that we can to keep airfares as low as possible for Australians… the government has made decisions to allow other companies to fly in out of the country,” she told Nine’s Today.

“I would say to Qatar with great respect, there are many opportunities for them to bring more people in and out of the country.

“They can increase flights around our nation and bring more people in on the flights they are already bringing into the country.”

King is going on two weeks’ leave, arranged months ago, after a torrid fortnight of political scrutiny over her Qatar decision, inflamed by widespread resentment of Australian airline Qantas, which has been accused of having outsized influence on government decisions, which King has denied.

Last week, King claimed public interest immunity for withholding documents from parliament, stating the documents would “disclose the nature of bilateral relations with Australia’s foreign partners”.

Senator Jacqui Lambie.

Senator Jacqui Lambie.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie told Today she believed King had “not consulted and done [her] homework” when she decided to block Qatar’s bid for more flights.

“You just don’t make a decision like that off-the-cuff,” she said.

“That is ridiculous. That is a fairly big decision to make without consulting. We don’t have a reason for that.”

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