On Monday afternoon, the results of an investigation led by the coalition were made public, and one of the recommendations was for Transport Minister Catherine King to “immediately” revisit the decision regarding Qatar Airways.
Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie has urged an extension of the enquiry into the absence of former Qantas CEO Alan Joyce due to his holiday abroad.
Senators from the Labour Party produced a dissenting report, dismissing the criticism that had been levelled at them, in which they said that the coalition’s conclusions were “inaccurate,” “obviously biased,” and “lacked regard for the complexity of the issue at hand.”
However, the committee “descended quite quickly into political antics” instead of trying to “make a meaningful contribution to the public debate.”
Qantas’ role in the decision to cancel the additional flights was under investigation.
The coalition has signalled that, upon Mr Joyce’s return to the country, it would summon him to testify, threatening to exacerbate the situation and perhaps imprison him if he does not cooperate.
Ms King’s justifications for turning down Qatar Airways request include protecting the airline industry while it recovers from COVID and cutting emissions.
She cited as “a factor” the event in 2020 at Doha’s international airport, in which five Australian women were subjected to intrusive gynaecological tests.
Chairman Richard Goyder also testified during the enquiry, maintaining that he had the support of Qantas’ major shareholders.
However, the Australian Shareholders Association has frequently demanded his resignation because the airline requires new executives.
The Victorian government had earlier predicted that a second daily flight from Doha to Melbourne would generate 900 new jobs; Qatar Airways predicts that the additional flights will bring $3 billion in economic benefits to Australia.
The Senate committee is expected to publish its findings about the country’s bilateral air rights next week.