Canberra comment column with Bob Katter MP

MT ISA and Cloncurry are so far away from anywhere and if there was ever a family that was aware of the tyranny of distance, it is my family.

We want to kill the tyranny of distance that was responsible for the death of my father, and his brother, my Uncle Norman who was injured in football. By the time he got a Qantas plane to Cloncurry, it was too late to save his life. My father had pancreatic cancer and required routine treatment in Brisbane. But the airline strike occurred and my father wouldn’t jump the queue, so by the time the flights resumed, the cancer had spread and it was too late.

Flights in and out of Mt Isa were $800 at the start of this year. Since then, we have been in discussions with Trade Unions, Mt Isa mines, State Government Departments and the Cloncurry and Mt Isa City Councils and together we have put pressure on the major airlines to make travel affordable for people in the mid-west. You can turn the television on any night of the week and see advertisements for return flights for $600-$900 to international destinations. These are flights of 5000 or 6000 km distance. We are talking about flights just 500km distance.

We know we are being skinned alive by an oligopoly. There are only three (arguably two) operators going in and out of Mt Isa/Cloncurry and they can virtually charge whatever they like. But Robbie Katter was putting the heat right on them through the Parliamentary Inquiry. If I got my way we would call for tenders for the route and we would guarantee a 70 per cent uplift. And for that we wanted under $500 return to Townsville.

Robbie was more brutal in his approach. He just wanted to go after their heads. But Robbie is right though. Because of his fierce attack, they brought the price of some flights in/out of Mt Isa down to just over $200.  We have got them worried.  But we have to keep the pressure on and keep them worried to keep the fares fair. 

So now with an election coming up, questions are being asked about how much of Qantas’ money has been going into the ‘yes’ vote for Same Sex Marriage (SSM).  We know the proclivities of the CEO who is paying himself $25m a year, all the while he is parcelling out huge sums indirectly and directly to the ‘yes’ campaign. It is speculated the ‘yes’ campaign costs are running over $100m, while the poor old ‘no’ campaign gets a canvas, hand painted sign on the side of the road. 

We are against the cabal of CEOs that pay themselves between $10m and $25m a year. As soon as Parliament resumes next week I will be moving legislation for restoration of the 75% tax rate on all dollars earnt above $1m for salary earners, not for owner/operators.  Owner/operators get out there and risk their livelihood to make a living, so they deserve that return for that risk. I’m talking about those people that pay themselves and don’t take any risks at all – those people with the Boards that are simply rubber stamps.

It’s about time that we realise the cabal of CEOs is not only running this country but every other country. Whatever their sexual proclivities or religious aberrations are, they regard their business as a lucky dip.

Like the former head of Australia Post Ahmed Fahour.  He did a deal that a $2.8m pre-tax donation was “mutually agreed” by Australia Post to be given to the Islamic Museum of Australia, founded by Ahmed Fahour’s brother Moustafa Fahour, when in the same year 900 Australia Post staff were sacked.  Now this Qantas bloke has given a heap of money to the SSM ‘yes’ campaign.

So while we are paying double what it costs to go to Europe, Malaysia, North America and Asia, that Qantas bloke is passing out money to support his sexual inclinations.

And if there is even a drop of merit to these claims, we will find out.

By Member for Kennedy Bob Katter MP