Why do our politicians always have their heads stuck in the clouds?
The question of ‘national interest’ has very much been up in the air in recent weeks to say the least. From the $3 million bill Defense Minister Richard Marles clocked over the last year in private RAAF transport to the Albanese Government’s protection racket for our ‘national carrier’, Labor is flying high!
In 2015, Speaker of the House and Liberal member for Mackellar Bronwyn Bishop resigned unceremoniously after being caught in a scandal over her $5000 helicopter ride from Melbourne to Geelong for a party fundraiser. Then Shadow Minister for Immigration and Border Control Richard Marles was among Bishop’s most ardent critics over the scandal. Fast forward 8 years and it was revealed that since April last year Richard Marles himself – now Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, has racked up $3 million worth of taxpayer funded private travel.
Marles claims his personal share of these flights is being exaggerated given others travel with him and the secrecy over flight details is a necessary security measure. However, the sheen of Alabanese’s Labor Government as a refreshing break from the rorts, corruption and waste of Morrison’s Liberals is quickly wearing away. In a cost of living crisis that is so acutely felt by Australia’s younger and more vulnerable, Marles’ proclamations that his travel is all above board and ‘serving Australia’ doesn’t exactly pass the pub test.
Yet Marles’ travel woes are a mere sideshow compared to the shameful tactics recently deployed by the Federal Government to allow our ‘national carrier’ to maintain both its profits and monopolistic market share. Qantas is an airline that has been famously stingy with covid credits, is facing a massive ACCC fine for selling tickets to cancelled flights and consistently avoids paying tax while claiming massive credits and taxpayer subsidies, not to mention they’ve just posted a record profit. Albanese and his Government have a hell of a job to do explaining why Qantas ought to be a protected species from competition from other international carriers such as Qatar Airways.
The ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) themselves have since come out and argued that opening up 21 additional routes for Qatar Airways within Australia would have reduced ticket prices during a cost-of-living crisis and increased competition in a very concentrated market. Murmurs of Qantas CEO Alan Joyce’s influence in cabinet and the timing of Albanese’s son Nathan being granted full access to their exclusive ‘Chairman’s Lounge’ hardly help either. In statements now walked back – Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones claimed Qatar was blocked to maintain the viability of Qantas in the Australian marketplace.
Former Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s famous catch-cry of the Liberals cosying up to the ‘top end of town’ suddenly hasn’t aged well. Even Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ recent rhetoric about a decade ‘lost to neo-liberalism’ appears to be lacking substance. Supposedly, the ‘adults are in charge’, however it’s beginning to seem like they always were, and are up to the same old tricks.
It’s not an easy time to be a Labor Federal Government – while growing resentment builds on their left flank, entrenched budgetary and fiscal challenges constrain their appetite for big spending. It remains to be seen how Labor can continue to retain its traditional working class base and appeal to younger people who are increasingly seeing the duopoly of Liberal and Labor as two sides of the same coin.
While Australians will continue to buckle under mortgage stress and cost-of-living woes, Alan Joyce will waltz away from Qantas as one of Australia’s best paid executives despite the airline’s public image taking a massive hit. If Labor can’t truly stand up to parasitic corporates and continues to waste taxpayer money on MP travel and entitlements they risk running out of electoral runway as pressure mounts from the left and right.
Max Payne is the Australian Programs Associate with Students For Liberty, supporting Australian students in their pursuit of liberty and free markets. He has also run twice as a candidate with the Libertarian Party. Max is a firm advocate of free markets, individual liberties, and is now committed to the Christian faith - despite growing up in an atheist and left-leaning family. His other articles can be found on substack as well as the Learn Liberty blog.
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