Saying you think things should be back in public hands is about as hip as saying you like Mormon underpants or chardonnay.
But, unlike Mormon underpants, the idea of putting Qantas back in public hands, is worth exploring.
That’s because Australia is an island. You can’t dig a tunnel and get here, you can’t catch a Eurail train, you can’t drive your car. You have to fly. (OK technically you can get here by cruiseliner or leaky boat but that’s a whole other blog).
Essentially our national carrier is going to be a whole lot more important than say, Switzerland‘s national carrier (which is owned by Germany). And as a nation, we need to be able to send our national carrier to troublespots on occasions to get Aussies out. Thankfully it’s only occasionally, but when it happens we need planes to follow a government directive fast.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t fancy the Australian Government‘s chances (no matter who is in charge) of ordering China Eastern to make an emergency trip to the Gaza strip to rescue some stranded Aussie tourists.
Also, because Qantas is responsible to shareholders and can respond to market forces, ie screw the customer, the price of regional flights is extortionate. Especially when you consider that many people forced to use regional flights wouldn’t necessarily have a spare $490 floating around (the cost of a flight from Sydney to Albury and back tomorrow for example).
Sure, Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane’s pretty cheap but what if you want to go to Narrabri? If Qantas were put back in public hands then subsidised flights to regional Australia could stimulate the economy faster than you can say School Improvement Program.
Sure it costs more. But just tax Clive Palmer and you’ve bought yourself a new fleet right there. See – there’s a solution for everything!
The thing is you get what you pay for. Currently we (the taxpayer) aren’t paying for Qantas and it shows. We are left with a dysfunctional mishmash of Asian airline meets Dubai meeting point. The romance has gone right out of it – much like Mormon underwear.
I’d love to see some discussion about it, not just a kneejerk pooh poohing of the idea. We need a reliable national carrier that we can call our own and that really does call Australia, not Dubai, home.