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Joyce now says WA Premier is ‘the best’ despite North Korea row

written by Adam Thorn | June 24, 2022

Last year, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce compared Western Australia’s border policies to those of North Korea, while the state’s premier retorted his COVID restrictions actually made WA “the most successful economy in the world”.

Now, in a previously unthinkable turnaround, Joyce has said Mark McGowan is “one of, if not the best, politicians easily in the country at the moment and he’s done a fantastic job here”.

The pair were appearing in public together to promote Qantas’ long-rumoured new route from Perth to Johannesburg.

Joyce and McGowan’s COVID feud began when the Flying Kangaroo’s chief executive attacked WA’s hard border, which banned most people from entering the state.

“We’re supposed to be all Australians and you can’t even travel around your own country,” he said.

When the state did announce plans to open, he jibbed that the country would no longer be like “North Korea and South Korea”.

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The WA Premier later responded to the comment, calling it “a bit over the top” and an “unfair comparison”.

“I don’t really get it,” Premier McGowan said. “(WA has) the most successful economy in the world, the greatest freedoms of anywhere in Australia for the last two years (and) virtually no one getting sick or passing away.

“Comparing us to North Korea, I think, might be a bit over the top.

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“A repressive dictatorship that murders hundreds of thousands of people compared with a successful democracy, full of freedoms and the best economy in the world.

“I think that’s an unfair comparison.”

Qantas on Friday announced its WA flights to Johannesburg and Jakarta would take off later this year.

“From 1 November, Qantas will operate the only direct service from Perth to South Africa, operating three return flights per week on its Airbus A330 aircraft,” said the airline.

“The flights will cut more than six hours from the fastest current travel time, with customers heading to Johannesburg from Perth currently having to fly on Qantas via Sydney, or via the Middle East.

“From 30 November, Qantas flights will reconnect Perth with Jakarta for the first time since borders closed in March 2020, beginning with three flights per week on its Boeing 737 aircraft.”

Joyce added WA had become an increasingly important part of its international network.

“International travel demand continues to rebound as people make up for two years of closed borders,” he said. “Our direct flights from Perth to London and Rome are selling really strongly, which gives us the confidence to add new routes from our western hub.

“Indonesia is a rapidly growing economy that’s home to more than 270 million people and these new flights will open up more trade and investment opportunities and a new gateway for travellers looking to explore Indonesia.

“There’s a big South African population that lives in Western Australia and this will be great for people travelling in both directions to see family and friends. It will also help support the economic ties between Australia and South Africa.”

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