On Friday 17 April, the Australian Services Union co-hosted with the Transport Workers Union an online forum: Charting a future for Australian aviation to discuss the big picture and long-term policy needs for the aviation industry beyond the current COVID-19 crisis.
We think it is critical that the future of the aviation industry is not left up to a handful of government MPs and airline executives, so we stepped up together with the TWU and ACTU to bring together experts to discuss how we can work together to chart the future of the Australian aviation industry.
We brought together union delegates and representatives, aviation experts, academics, and industry representatives who set out their ideas on how to not only ensure short term intervention from the Government but also develop longer-term strategy that leads to a sustainable aviation industry for workers, customers and the community. Unfortunately, although invited, the Qantas Group declined to send a representative to this important industry forum.
Key ASU delegates from around the country attended the roundtable, and heard from a panel of speakers that included:
Paul Scurrah, CEO & Stuart Aggs, COO – Virgin Australia
Hiranjan Aloysius, CEO – Dnata Australia
Wayne Swan – Former Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer
Garry Weaven – Former Chair of IFM and Industry Super Australia
Prof. John Quiggin – Economist, Professor University of Queensland
Prof. Greg Bamber – Monash University
Senator Tony Sheldon – NSW ALP Senator
Linda White – ASU Assistant National Secretary
Michael Kaine – TWU Federal Secretary
Michele O’Neil – ACTU President.
Some of the key points of the discussion included:
- Aviation is an industry of strategic national importance for Australia and is an essential public service. Australia needs a policy framework that delivers sustainable businesses, quality jobs and a reliable service for the travelling public throughout Australia.
- The crisis is extremely difficult and must be front of mind. But we must also think about how the industry looks on the other side.
- The Ansett collapse and Qantas’ use of members’ leave shows workers are always asked to bail out this industry. It is critical that the government steps in, like governments all around the world are doing – including in the USA.
- The overall damage to the economy if we see another Ansett will be too great. The government must not make the same mistakes. The Morrison government must act, and it must act now.
- The market will not solve this problem. The government must intervene and provide support to the industry not just this year or next, but much longer term.
- If there is financial relief, the public must take an equity stake and there must be conditions attached that will protect workers’ jobs, conditions, and entitlements.
- Aviation is an inherently turbulent industry; this is not the first crisis we’ve seen. We need long-term strategies and planning in the sector and robust policies to overcome the peaks and troughs.
- There are structural issues that have not been addressed over a long period of time, including ownership structures, air services agreements and contracts, excessive executive pay, and too much fragmentation across the industry.
We are all committed to a sustainable, viable aviation industry that is here for the long-term. But we need long-term, big-picture planning from the government to deliver a secure future for the industry and for our members.
This was a first step. We will continue discussions about what any support and packages will look like and what aviation policy should be to best place our country for the future. As always we will keep you updated and consulted every step of the way.