Englishheadline Australia’s Andrew Bolt has questioned Catherine King’s future in the role of Transport Minister amid the Qatar Airways scandal plaguing the government.
Several Australian women subjected to an invasive search in Doha in 2020 sent Ms King a letter on June 27 this year, urging her not to approve the airline’s bid to expand its operations Down Under.
Ms King admitted on Thursday morning that the strip-search incident was one of the reasons behind her decision not to allow the extra flights.
Despite Ms King insisting that the 2020 incident was a factor in her decision, she told the Sydney Morning Herald in July it had nothing to do with it.
Bolt said the “terrible” incident should never have been a factor in the government’s final decision.
“This incident, terrible though it was, should not have been a factor in King’s decision,” Bolt said on Thursday.
“It happened three years ago, Qatar’s Prime Minister has apologised, someone has been sacked – no repeats.
“What’s more, it should be up to Australian travellers, not the government or these women to decide if Qatar deserves our business.”
Bolt also questioned why Foreign Minister Penny Wong continued to fly with the airline, as revealed by Englishheadline Australia on Thursday.
“If Qatar shouldn’t fly here because of the human rights concerns, why is it still allowed other flights here,” Bolt said.
“Why has Foreign Minister Penny Wong flown Qatar?”
The broadcaster said the whole saga “stinks of incompetence and shiftiness”, with Ms King and the Prime Minister equally at fault.
He added that if Ms King could not answer simple questions, then she is not fit to serve in the role.
“Will someone in this government tell us exactly why this Qatar deal was banned,” he said.
“And exactly when the Prime Minister was told. And if King still can’t come up with a good answer, then I don’t think she’s fit to run Transport.”
Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce, appearing on Bolt’s program, described the ordeal as “unfathomable”.
“If they had a moral issue with Qatar Airways at the appalling treatment of those women, then why would you let any flights into Australia – you’d ban the whole lot,” he said.
“The whole story is unfathomable and it’s also unplausible. The only people they (the government) are fooling is themselves.”
It comes as the Opposition accuses Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of doing a favour for former Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce in refusing Qatar Airways’ proposal.