SUBJECTS: Qantas long-haul flights; Qantas centenary celebrations.
JOURNALIST: You’ve been involved with infrastructure and transport for a long time. Can you explain the significance of this flight today?
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Well, this is a revolution. The idea that you can fly directly from Sydney to London, following on from the direct flight from Sydney to New York is obviously much more efficient, big productivity gains. But also, in terms of convenience, I had a year ago went from Perth to London. It’s now a direct flight and is extremely successful for Qantas and it is once again Australian ingenuity leading the way for the globe.
JOURNALIST: What do you think it says about industrial relations, about the pilots being able to fly direct from, say, Sydney to the UK? Of course, Qantas has admitted that they have got a company deal with their pilots to be able to do these flights.
ALBANESE: Well, that’s why we are having these trials, as well. I just spoke to the pilot who flew direct from New York to Sydney and part of what they are doing is monitoring the pilots for health reasons as well as the customers on board. I certainly hope, I’m sure they will, come to an agreement. And what we will see is these direct flights taking place in a few months’ time, Qantas will be flying directly from Brisbane to Chicago. And it really does change the way that international travel will work. We are an island continent. In order to go across our borders, we need to catch planes. And it is such a massive change. When my mum went overseas, it took her three months on a ship. Nowadays, the fact that you can do it in under a day, and doing it directly, is quite extraordinary.
JOURNALIST: Does it say something also about Australian ingenuity in terms of technology to be able to do this as well?
ALBANESE: Absolutely. Of course, today we are celebrating 100 years since the Smiths landed in Darwin. It’s quite extraordinary that aviation has travelled so far in technology in that 100 years. Today’s planes are quieter, they’re more efficient and they’re certainly much more convenient in terms of getting from Australia to the rest of the world.