Publication of PM Albanese’s diary renews criticism over Qatar Airways fiasco

The release of Anthony Albanese’s diary confirms that he had a meeting with then-Qantas boss Alan Joyce weeks before the national carrier submitted that a bid by rival airline Qatar Airways to boost its local services should be rejected.

The diary’s release follows a 16-month pursuit of its contents, with a meeting between Mr Albanese and Mr Joyce now confirmed

The Prime Minister’s Office had opposed the publication of the diary, before ultimately choosing against filing a defence in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

A redacted copy of the diary, released by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet on January 3, shows that Mr Albanese hosted then-Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce on November 23, 2022 for a half-hour meeting.

The date of the meeting was previously detailed in documents tabled by Qantas in September 2022 to the Qantas cost of living inquiry.

The meeting was held six after the national carrier had submitted to a Department of Transport consultation on October 14 2022, that Qatar’s bid, lodged earlier that month, should be rejected.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton on Thursday renewed the Coalition’s attacks on the government, calling on the prime minister to come clean on “serious questions” over the refusal of Qatar’s bid.

“I think there are some serious questions for the prime minister to answer here because the decision has had a direct negative effect on the travelling public,” Mr Dutton told Nine Radio.

“It appears [Mr Albanese] has met with the CEO has surely would have lobbied on this issue on behalf of his company, and the prime minister didn’t want us to know anything about it.”

Mr Albanese has emphatically denied that he made the decision to block Qatar’s application nor did he receive any lobbying over the issue.

On Thursday, a government spokesperson said: “As the Prime Minister told the House on 5 September: ‘I once again confirm I did not speak to the former Qantas CEO before a decision was made.’”

Instead, the decision to block Qatar’s bid was made by Transport Minister Catherine King, on July 10, 2023, and made public just over a week later.

The Minister’s decision to reject the application ultimately sparked significant controversy, fuelling claims that the government was stifling competition in the aviation sector and ensuring Qantas maintained its share of the Australian aviation market.

A Coalition-led Senate inquiry into the matter, which Ms King refused to front, recommended that the government immediately review its decision.

In December, the Albanese government approve an application by Turkish Airlines to increase its flight capacity to Australia to 35 flights a week, bolstering connections to Europe.

Read related topics:Anthony AlbaneseQantas

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