NATALIE BARR: There is growing frustration this morning after it was revealed Alan Joyce will miss today's Senate Aviation Inquiry. The former Qantas boss is overseas and there is no guarantee he'll return before the Committee reports its findings, which is set to be handed down on October 9.
Inquiry Chair Senator Bridget McKenzie is calling on Mr Joyce to front up, saying he at least owes that to the airline's loyal customers, shareholders and staff.
Let's bring in Home Affairs Minister, Clare O'Neil, and Shadow Finance Minister and Chair of the Cost of Living Committee, Jane Hume. Good morning to both of you.
Clare, there are headlines all around the country this morning. This one from The Daily Telegraph, I'm not sure whether you guys can see because I know you're standing outside, Jane, "Reward: wanted. Globe‑trotting Joyce evades Senate." Does he have a right to be on holiday with his mum in Ireland, or should he be fronting up to that Senate Inquiry, Clare?
CLARE O'NEIL: Oh, look, I mean he's entitled to do what wants to do, but he's got public responsibilities, I think, to front up and talk to the Australian people about what's happened here. I mean, he has taken the Qantas brand and made it one of the most contempted in Australia right now, and that's for really good reason.
People have been treated really shabbily by this airline, they've had flights cancelled, we've got a scandal here where it's alleged that Qantas sold tickets to people on flights they knew would never take off, and these all happened under his tenure and his leadership, and I think it's perfectly fair and right for Australians to get some answers out of this bloke about how all that happened.
NATALIE BARR: Yeah. Jane what happens here, with Vanessa Hudson, the new CEO, and Richard Goyder, the Chairman, are going to be giving evidence today. What happens here, because it sounds like the Committee will be reporting before he's due back?
JANE HUME: Yeah, it is in fact a contempt, Nat, to ignore a request from a Senate Committee to appear, and in fact when Alan Joyce did appear in front of the Senate Cost of Living Committee that I Chair, it took a few very sternly‑worded emails to encourage him to turn up. Now that was a pretty scarring experience, I think, for Alan Joyce when he realised ‑‑
NATALIE BARR: What, he kept saying no?
JANE HUME: ‑‑ absolutely, when he realised, absolutely he kept saying no, but eventually we made it very clear that it is a contempt of the Parliament, a contempt of the Senate not to front up to a Senate Committee. Eventually he did turn up and found himself under the pump from not just Coalition Senators, but also those right across the Chamber, on so many things; those ghost flights that Clare spoke about, the protection racket that was being run for Qantas preventing Qatar Airways from taking on those additional routes and what that would have done for the cost of air fares.
Already the Airline Inquiry that's chaired by my colleague, Bridget McKenzie, has heard from an economist from Qantas that has since retired that had those Qatar Airways routes been opened up that air fares would be somewhere between 7 to 10 per cent lower right now. So I do think that Alan Joyce has some questions to answer.
NATALIE BARR: It doesn't sound like we will though, but we'll hear from the heads of Qantas today. Moving on, today marks the final day in office for Victorian Premier, Dan Andrews, who even shocked his own colleagues yesterday by resigning after nine years in the top job. Clare, what would you say is the impact he's had on the country in big forums like National Cabinet?
CLARE O'NEIL: It's been absolutely massive, Nat. It is a really, really important day for us in Victoria. This person has been, you know, an icon really in our lives for a very long time now. He's won three elections in a row, all with increased majorities for him, and I know there’s lots of people writing newspaper articles who didn't like much about Daniel Andrews.
I can say the Victorian people felt very differently, and they showed that at the ballot box. You don't see a lot of leaders with the strength and courage and will and drive that Daniel Andrews had for our State. He's done amazing things, and everywhere I look in my community I see rebuilt schools, I see level crossings gone, I see infrastructure projects that were funded, and he's been a great leader of our State, and I'm very sorry to see him go. He's also my constituent, so from that perspective, I'm very happy for him that he's getting more time with his beautiful family.
NATALIE BARR: Yeah, Jane, it's quite mixed, isn't it? Other people are saying Victoria's falling apart and the State is broken, but he has a lot of supporters too.
JANE HUME: Look, I've never been ungracious when one of my colleagues retires, and after 21 years, I do wish Daniel Andrews well in his retirement. But quite frankly I feel very different to Clare. My State is broken, and it's broke, $220 billion in debt. That's four times the debt when Daniel Andrews came to office.
We've had numerous reports from the IBAC of a systemic corruption that have been dismissed outright by this Premier, because he has contempt for the media, contempt for institutions, he's politicised our institutions and his dismissed both political adversaries and colleagues alike. I actually think that he's debased our politics, and as my mother would say, "Good riddance to bad rubbish."
NATALIE BARR: Wow. Okay.
CLARE O'NEIL: But, Jane, why is he so popular then from your perspective, because I have to say, I see it very differently. What I see is a politician who actually is one of the first people that's developed a direct relationship with his voters in a way that was impossible before technology, and all these newspaper articles that get ‑‑
JANE HUME: Well, that's because he locked us down for 262 days, Clare ‑‑
CLARE O'NEIL: But Jane, but Jane ‑‑
JANE HUME: ‑‑ with a curfew ‑‑
CLARE O'NEIL: ‑‑ and then won with such an increased majority.
JANE HUME: ‑‑ with rings of steel with a radius of five kilometres, he ‑‑
CLARE O'NEIL: Victorians were proud of his leadership under a really under a really, really difficult time.
JANE HUME: He directed police to arrest a woman in her pyjamas for ‑‑
NATALIE BARR: Jane, Clare's right ‑‑
JANE HUME: ‑‑ for dissenting on Facebook.
NATALIE BARR: ‑‑ winning elections, a lot of Premiers would like his record, wouldn't they?
JANE HUME: Unfortunately I think that is in fact the case, but I think that our State is far worse for the presence of Daniel Andrews, and I'm very pleased to see him go. So would all of those people that were scarred by the longest lockdowns in the world, 262 days of some of the most Draconian measures; fencing off playgrounds, having "move along" instructions to old ladies sitting on park benches.
It was a disgraceful behaviour, and of course the most chronically mismanaged hotel quarantine in the country, more deaths in aged care than in any other State. Clare, you were Shadow Aged Care Minister at the time. How can you possibly say that Daniel Andrews did a good job?
NATALIE BARR: Yeah.
CLARE O'NEIL: Well, I mean at the end of the day we live in a democracy, Jane, and the Australian people and the Victorian people get to decide, and they absolutely, fundamentally and profoundly disagree with you, and at the end of the day that's what matters. This person changed our State for the better forever, and I'm really grateful to him for the leadership he showed our State over those long years.
JANE HUME: Clare, I reckon ‑‑
NATALIE BARR: You've both had your say.
JANE HUME: ‑‑ give it a glass of wine and a late night, I think you'd speak very differently, because the contempt he felt for his colleagues, particularly those in different factions was very different to the way that you're expressing it now.
NATALIE BARR: Okay, well, no wine here because it's Breakfast, but he was a very successful, yet a very controversial figure. He goes at 5 pm today. Thank you very much. We'll see you next week.