Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1360 ..
MS MacDONALD (6.05), in reply: In closing this debate, I would like to clear up a few items. I accept that the former government did make efforts to assist Kendell and Hazelton employees. They did that, I acknowledge, with the support of the opposition at the time. It has always been my belief that it was a mistake to give $250,000 to Hazelton, because Hazelton were not a player in the market. While you may wish to establish competition through a strong player in the market, Kendell was a floundering player. Because of the loss of their parent company, they were struggling to maintain themselves in the Canberra market. Introducing another player that was also floundering because it had the same parent, and a player that had not been part of this market, was a mistake.
I have had disagreements with lots of people about that, but it is still my belief that giving money to Hazelton was a bad idea. I repeat: where are Hazelton now? They are not here anymore. I know they promised a lot of things, but then who would not when you are looking at the lucrative Canberra/Sydney market. That is what they were looking at, and that is all they were providing for. They were not providing for regional routes, which is what Kendell had done previously and what Kendell have the potential to do.
Mr Smyth and Mr Humphries made comments about me not having much knowledge about this, and Mr Smyth made comments about how he personally spoke to lots of people. For five years I worked for the Australian Services Union as the organiser in Canberra. I visited Ansett weekly when their call centre was based in Deakin. I visited management as well as the airport and the AIS and all the other Ansett retail centres.
I can name scores of people who worked at Ansett. I still see them, I still know their names and I still feel absolute misery at the fact that many of them do not have a job. The person I saw on Monday night when I was at a dinner-and he was partner to someone else-still does not have a job. Prior to him working with Ansett he worked with Qantas. He has worked in the aviation industry pretty much all of his life. That is what he is trained to do.
Mr Humphries is right. Every government needs to do the best it can to try to prevent job loss. I am not saying that single-handedly the former Liberal government could have saved Ansett. There is no way that that is the case. But the federal Liberal government overlooked a lot of things in allowing Air New Zealand, an airline smaller than Ansett, to purchase Ansett. Air New Zealand did not have the funds. There was no checking of whether they could do it. It was just done on a blind agreement.
Apart from the person I saw on Monday night, a very good friend of mine with many years of experience has only recently got a job. I know one person in Canberra who had bought a unit just before Ansett collapsed. I wonder what happened to that person. I know people who were working at the airport in associated industries such as cleaning and who no longer have jobs because Ansett is no longer there and because the Ansett terminal has been closed for such a long time. I am very happy to see that the terminal has now been opened for Virgin's use. It is great that Virgin now have access to the terminal and do not have to load and unload their baggage outside on the footpath.