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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1570 ..

Questions without notice

Rex Airlines

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, my question is to the minister for business and tourism. Minister, Rex Airlines has recently stated that it would end services to Canberra unless governments allowed it to be able to compete freely with Qantas for public service travel. As you may be aware, Rex Airlines is employing many of the staff previously employed by Kendell and Hazelton Airlines.

While the Commonwealth is obviously the main target of their concerns, the ACT government also has the second biggest travel budget in the territory. A check of the website revealed that a return trip between Sydney and Canberra on Rex would cost as little as $151, as opposed to $356 on Qantas. What actions have you taken to ensure that ACT government employees can travel with Rex, if it is a competitive option for that particular trip?

MR QUINLAN: Yes, it is a concern that Rex has not been patronised. I guess that has to do with the processes which have been in place for a long time in terms of individual choice and individual management by agencies. I have issued instructions. We do investigate the various means we have to ensure that a reasonable proportion of travel by the ACT government goes to Rex.

I have, of course, had some discussions with Rex Airlines. They are now providing lounge accommodation in various airports, which apparently is a big selling point. They are also selling memberships for those lounges. I am confident that, from our perspective, we can push a reasonable degree of trade towards Rex without necessarily breaching any competition policies and whatever rules might exist. Hopefully, we can also encourage the Commonwealth to follow suit, because that is where the real money is.

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Minister, would you like to detail to the assembly what actions you have taken to persuade the federal government to compete more fairly for their business?

MR QUINLAN: No, as I said, I have not. We would be interested in doing that, but I have not chased the Commonwealth government. I know that the Rex management and directors have been dealing with the Commonwealth government. Without great certainty, I understand that a couple of them might have connections to the political party of the federal government's persuasion and in fact might have, without interference from me, a better chance than I of convincing ministers of the federal government of this. However, in my discussions with those representatives, I have offered to do what they feel might be appropriate to assist them at a suitable time.

Australian International Hotel School

MR HARGREAVES: My question is to the Treasurer. Can the Treasurer inform the house of the outcome of discussion he has had with representatives of the Australian International Hotel School over the question of the school's future?

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