Peter Dutton questions Anthony Albanese’s ‘close relationship’ with Qantas after govt rejects Qatar Airways expansion | Englishheadline


The Federal Opposition Leader has probed the Prime Minister’s relationship with the recently retired Qantas boss in light of the latest scandals.

Peter Dutton sat down exclusively with Englishheadline Australia and questioned Anthony Albanese’s “very close relationship” with Alan Joyce after the government knocked back a deal that would have seen Qantas potentially lose out on market share.  

Transport Minister Catherine King last month rejected Qatar Airways’ application to operate 21 additional flights into Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane over “national interest” concerns.

The decision came under fire by the Coalition who suggested the Albanese government denied the “sweetheart deal” to serve Qantas, who were the only airline to lobby against the request.

Mr Dutton said it was right to ask questions about the nature of the relationship between Mr Albanese and Mr Joyce, who he claimed enjoyed to “walk the red carpet” together. 

“As each day goes by, it gives rise to more questions about what has happened here and whether due process has been followed,” he said on Wednesday.

“The decision they’ve made has resulted in Australians paying literally thousands of dollars more for international air tickets at a time when families can least afford it and it’s also had an impact on keeping domestic airfare prices high.

“Virgin has a relationship with Qatar, the Qatar inbound passengers would distribute through the Virgin domestic network and that would put pressure onto Qantas so that we could have proper competition.”  

Qantas currently dominates Middle Eastern and European routes with a 43 per cent market share and recently posted a record pre-tax profit of $2.47 billion.

Mr Dutton accused Mr Albanese of backroom meetings with Mr Joyce, who brought up his slated retirement two months to resign on Tuesday.

“The Prime Minister has no doubt encouraged Mr Joyce very carefully and, in the months leading up to the announcement around the referendum, for Qantas to be actively involved. They are,” he said.

Qantas has painted the Yes23 campaign logo on three of its aircrafts and publicly backed the Albanese government’s constitutional reform.

It was later revealed the Prime Minister’s 23-year-old son was granted an invite-only pass to the airline’s ultra-exclusive Chairman’s Lounge.

“I just don’t understand what game they’re playing here,” Mr Dutton said.

Mr Albanese has maintained he did not have conversations regarding the Qatar deal with Mr Joyce or any other senior executive at Qantas.

He, however, on Tuesday admitted to speaking to Virgin Chief Executive Jayne Hrdlicka about the deal three days after Ms King had formally stated the decision in a letter. He added he was at the time unaware she had sent the letter.

It was then on Wednesday revealed Foreign Minister Penny Wong had initiated a phone call with Qatari Prime Minister to discuss “bilateral cooperation relations between the two countries and regional and international developments” earlier this week.

The timing of the conversation in the midst of the Qantas and Qatar Airways scandal raised eyebrows but Ms Wong declared they did not speak on the matter.

“This week the conversation takes place but they don’t talk about the one issue that is no doubt causing the Qataris pretty significant angst and frustration because they’re probably in the dark about what Anthony Albanese has been up to,” Mr Dutton said.

The government will face an inquiry into its contentious decision to reject Qatar Airways’ application after the Coalition successfully passed a motion in Senate, winning 32 to 31 votes.

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