Transcript of doorstop, Perth
JOURNALIST: Minister, you've previously said the government rejected Qatar Airways' bid to increase flights into Australia because it was not in the national interest. Can you please expand on that?
CATHERINE KING: Well, I'm going to again repeat, and I have said this several times, that we have not accepted the expansion of Qatar into Australia's aviation market for the national interest. So, I don't think it's helpful for me to pick any one particular factor that I took into consideration in deciding that. But what I would say is a couple of things. These are government to government air services agreements. It is entirely unremarkable, frankly, that a government, as has previous governments, take the decision not to increase capacity requests from time to time. It happened under the previous government. It has happened under this government.
JOURNALIST: Are you punishing Qatar for the forced examination scandal 2020?
CATHERINE KING: Again, I think it's unhelpful to point to any one factor when it comes to the national interest, when it comes to international aviation.
JOURNALIST: Stephen Jones this morning said that one of the reasons these flights were blocked was because that the government's wary of undermining profitability. Why is the government combing the business and protecting airline profits at the moment?
CATHERINE KING: Well, I wouldn't have used the same words that Stephen did. And as I've repeatedly said, this was a decision that was taken in the national interest, and there's no one factor that swayed my consideration one way or the other. But really, what I would say when it comes to Qantas, there is no doubt that they need to do better. I said that in opposition. I have said that repeatedly in government. They have let a lot of consumers down. People are very angry about the way in which services have been operating and they need to do better.
JOURNALIST: When you say he wouldn't have used those words that Stephen did, has he got the wrong end of the stick? Do you disagree with what he said?
CATHERINE KING: No, no. I think that you should read his full transcript - his transcript in full.
JOURNALIST: What do you say to Peter Dutton's claims that you're running a protection racket for Qantas.
CATHERINE KING: Well he needs to explain the decision by his Minister when they were in government that was very similar, is what I say to Peter Dutton.
JOURNALIST: Were you and your department affected [indistinct]. Were you and your department overruled by Cabinet and Anthony Albanese on this decision?
CATHERINE KING: This is a decision that I have made as Minister for Transport in the national interest. It is, you know, these aviation agreements are international agreements between governments. From time to time, governments come to us and request increase of capacity into the Australian market. And we weigh up the factors that are in our national interest to make sure that we continue to have a strong aviation market and a strong aviation industry in this country. We have already increased capacity into the Australian aviation market. We've had Cathay that's coming in, Southern China is coming in, Emirates and Qantas have increased. We've got requests from Vietnam Airlines and also from Turkey as well, I think, is coming down the track. We take these considerations very seriously. It is not unusual that governments from time to time don't accept requests from other governments to enter into our international aviation market.
JOURNALIST: Does Qantas hold a bit of a special place in kind of competition here in Australia given it's a national carrier? Does it need to be dealt with a little bit differently by government than, say, any other corporates?
CATHERINE KING: It is as you'll see when we release the Aviation Green Paper shortly, it is incredibly important that we have a strong aviation sector in this country, and that includes Qantas, Virgin, Rex, Bonza - the other small airlines that we have operating within this country. They are all important, both domestically and internationally. Thanks, guys. Thank you. Thanks for coming.