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Joyce escapes further grilling as Senate nixes inquiry extension

written by Jake Nelson | October 19, 2023

Former Qantas CEO Alan Joyce speaks at a press conference at Sydney Airport. (Image: Jake Nelson)

Former Qantas CEO Alan Joyce will not front another Senate inquiry after plans to extend the Select Committee on Commonwealth Bilateral Air Service Agreements were voted down.

Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie, who chaired the inquiry, moved on Wednesday to extend it so witnesses including Joyce and Transport Minister Catherine King could be called. The motion was defeated 34–31, however, as the Greens and independent David Pocock sided with the government against it.

The inquiry, which wrapped up earlier this month, was announced to allow senators to challenge high-profile figures involved in the federal government’s Qatar decision, but recommended in its final report an extension so Joyce could be questioned about his role in the blocking of extra flights by the Middle Eastern carrier into Australia’s major airports.

In a blistering statement, Senator McKenzie accused the government of running a “cover-up” on behalf of Joyce, also taking to social media to decry what she says is a “protection racket” for Qantas.

“This inquiry was first set up to find out the real reason why the Albanese Government has contributed to keeping the cost of airfares high by blocking Qatar Airways’ request for additional flights, and while the inquiry has made serious recommendations to make our aviation industry more competitive, this question still hasn’t been answered,” she said.


“Mr Joyce is one of only three people who know why Qantas has received preferential treatment at the hands of the Albanese Government and now we will not be able to bring him before the Senate Committee to answer legitimate and serious questions about his personal and political relationship with the Prime Minister.”

Minister King earlier this week slammed the inquiry as a “ridiculous farce” and seemed to rule out a review of the decision to block extra Qatar flights.

“A very politicised Senate Inquiry is asking the Australian Government to do something the previous government was unable and unwilling to do in its nine long years in office. It did not increase Qatar Airlines’ access to Australia by 28 flights. It did not fix the slot system in Sydney; it did not fix all of the consumer issues when it came to airlines in this country,” said Minister King.

“We have a Green Paper that we put out, we spent quite some time putting together, that is focused on how we get aviation back up and running properly in this country in a way that benefits consumers, benefits competition.

“I’m not going to be listening to a highly‑politicised Senate Inquiry that just saw, frankly, a ridiculous farce of Bridget McKenzie running around the country where there were empty chairs, you know, bringing people over to Western Australia, and all of the evidence has been heard from over here in the country, and so if you read the dissenting report, that’s the Government’s response.”

The government this week announced an extension of the ACCC’s domestic aviation monitoring program, another of the committee’s recommendations.

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Comment (1)

  • David Savage


    I believe that Alan Joice should be required to return to Australia and face both an enquiry as to his management of the Covid fiasco of refunds and credits as well as the sale of travel on cancelled flights after the fact, and secondly to face the citizens of Australia and explain and apologise for his actions that shamed and hurt Australia and the Qantas icon.

    He should not be allowed to just walk away with a pocket full of cash.

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