The ongoing controversy surrounding Qatar has inadvertently embroiled the Speaker of the House in its wake, as a consequence of the Coalition seizing a perceived evasion from the Transport Minister during a spirited parliamentary debate.
In the heat of the moment, Catherine King, who was under significant pressure, was queried about any potential conversations she or her staff might have entertained with Alan Joyce, the preceding chief of Qantas, prior to her rebuffing the proposition from the Middle Eastern airline to augment flights to Australia.
King retorted by asserting that her department had liaised with all crucial representatives of the aviation sector and that she had taken various stakeholder viewpoints into account prior to her verdict.
“The primary overtures made to me about Qatar were from Virgin. Additionally, a third party visited my office on Qatar’s behalf,” conveyed Ms. King, “Lately, the discussions I have engaged in with Qantas primarily revolved around their worries regarding out ‘same job, same pay’ legislation.”
The Coalition, seething in perceived injustice, avowed that Ms. King had sidestepped the question. Consequently, when Speaker Milton Dick declared the minister’s response as satisfactory, the Coalition escalated the situation by presenting an infrequently seen motion of dissent against the Speaker.
Opposition leader Peter Dutton proclaimed that the perceived evasiveness of the Transport Minister had left him with no other choice.
“Although you are a decent and honourable Speaker, you have been cornered into this challenging position by a minister trying to sidestep the truth,” stated Mr. Dutton.
He further added: “Mr Speaker, we had no option but to express our dissent in your ruling, forced by a minister unwilling to confront the truth. The Australian public seeks clarity from this government.”
The contentious motion was ultimately squashed in a 53 to 86 vote defeat.
Shortly thereafter, Ms King adjourned back to the dispatch box to contest that the Coalition held a precedent of similar dealings with Qatar.
“The exact same question was once presented to the representative of Riverina, former transport minister Michael McCormack,” she contended, “and he said ‘I’ve decided to postpone Qatar Airways’ application.'”