A war of words ensues between Peter Dutton and the Queensland government after a bid from Virgin Australia
An annoying feud has arisen between the Queensland government and Home Secretary Peter Dutton after Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that the state would make an offer for the purchase of Virgin Australia.
Ms. Palaszczuk revealed on Wednesday that the Queensland Investment Corporation has been appointed to oversee the government’s surprise offer for an interest in the collapsed airline.
But the announcement didn’t go well with Mr. Dutton, who blamed the Queensland leader for an extraordinary attack on Twitter.
“Prime Minister Palaszczuk has almost bankrupted Queensland and now they want to buy an airline in the midst of a crisis,” he wrote Wednesday evening.
“It is laughable. She “leads” a government that is corrupt and chaotic. ‘
Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick quickly hit back and threw the Ruby Princess debacle in his face.
“Look buddy, just stick with cruise ships,” he wrote.
Federal Secretary of the Interior Peter Dutton (left) has called Queensland Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk’s (right) plan to buy Virgin’s airline as “corrupt” and “chaotic”
Peter Dutton fired an extraordinary shot at Premier Palaszczuk and the Queensland government, but treasurer Dick hit back quickly
Mr Dutton’s Border Force service has been heavily criticized for having the ship docked in Sydney on March 19.
The ship has been linked to 22 deaths and more than 700 coronavirus infections across Australia, about 10 percent of the total cases in the country.
Called ‘Project Maroon’ by the Queensland government, the bidding proposal for Virgin has now turned into an extraordinary war of words.
The controversial airline went into voluntary administration in April when coronavirus grounded flights across Australia leaving Virgin with less than $ 5 billion in debt.
Border closures and travel bans in Australia and around the world have left the airline financially crippled, and the airline’s 16,000 employees were in danger of losing their jobs.
Treasurer Dick said his main focus is to keep and create jobs for Queenslanders during the pandemic.
Virgin Australia entered voluntary administration on April 21 after she was financially crippled by the corona virus crisis
“Having two Australian airlines is in everyone’s best interest and is the best way to support tourism, jobs and regional investment and keep the air fair,” he said.
“We have the opportunity to not only retain the headquarters and crew in Queensland, but also grow jobs in the repair, maintenance and overhaul sector and support both direct and indirect jobs in our tourism industry.”
Who Owns Virgin Australia?
Government of Abu Dhabi – 21%
Singaporean government – 20%
Nanshan Capital (China) – 20%
HNA (China) – 20%
Richard Branson – 10.4%
Australian shareholders: 8.6%
Source: Virgin Australia annual report
While it remains unclear whether the state hopes to acquire a direct equity stake, a loan, a guarantee or other financial incentives, QIC CEO Damien Frawley told the Australian Financial Review that Virgin’s restructuring represents a significant opportunity for Queensland.
“We are well equipped to manage the state’s interest in Virgin Australia Holdings if the consortium is successful,” he said.
“QIC’s track record as an acquirer, owner and operator of National Critical Infrastructure for both the Queensland government and long-term investors supports our bid for the consortium.”
Virgin Australia initially hoped to make a deal with the federal government and asked them for a $ 1.4 billion bail.
But federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg was convinced that the Australian taxpayer would not save the airline.
Timeline of Ruby Princess fiasco
18th of March: The Ruby Princess calls an urgent mayday call for an ambulance for two of her passengers who present with coronavirus-like symptoms 24 hours before the ship is allowed to dock in Sydney.
March 19: The Ruby Princess arrives in Sydney Harbor. More than 2,700 guests are allowed to disembark without adequate health checks.
March 25: Australian Border Commissioner Michael Outram says New South Wales Health is responsible for getting coronavirus patients on board.
29 March: Several crew members are evacuated and taken to hospital after coronavirus has been diagnosed.
April 2: A 66-year-old crew member is taken off the Ruby Princess for medical treatment. More than 200 crew members are ill and in isolation.
NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian defends the actions of NSW Health and the Australian Border Force and points the finger at the Ruby Princess. She claims that the personnel on board may have misled NSW Health about the extent of passenger illness.
April 3rd: Home Secretary Peter Dutton claims that Ruby Princess operators were not transparent about crew health: “It was ‘obvious that some companies lied about the health of passengers and crew on board’.
April 4: Leaked emails indicate that NSW Health was aware of the coronavirus risk on board the Ruby Princess before thousands of passengers were able to disembark.
April 5th: A criminal investigation is underway into how passengers could disembark without health checks
April 8: A team of 30 state crime, counterterrorism and maritime command officers are investigating the treatment of the Ruby Princess coronavirus scandal. The first briefing on the investigation is being held.
April 9: NSW police dressed in PPE equipment invades the ship, interrogates the captain and searches for evidence in a rapid escalation of the criminal investigation.
11 April: NSW Health confirms that at least 46 crew members of the Ruby Princess cruise ship have contracted COVID-19
13th of April: NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller says patient zero on board may have been a crew member serving meals to hundreds of passengers
15 of April: NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian Announces Independent Independent Commission To Investigate Ruby Princess Fiasco
April 23: With 500 crew members on board, the Ruby Princess left Australian waters to sail to Manila in the Philippines
Virgin Australia air crew is shown with a brave face at Brisbane airport after news of the company’s voluntary administration was revealed
Passengers are pictured on Virgin’s baggage drop on April 21 after voluntary administration was announced
“The government would not rescue five large foreign shareholders with deep pockets who together own 90 percent of this airline,” he said.
“This is not liquidation. This is not Ansett. This is not the end of the airline. As the company has said itself, this is more of an opportunity for the company to recapitalize and get stronger on the other side of the coronavirus crisis.
“Our goal is a market-driven solution. Our goal is two commercially viable, major domestic airlines operating in Australia. ‘
Singapore Airlines, Etihad Airways and Chinese conglomerates HNA Group and Hanshan each own 20 percent of Virgin Australia.
Richard Branson’s Virgin Group still owns 10 percent, while ASX shareholders make up the rest of the ownership group.
Virgin Australia could be sold in a few months
Administrators plan to sell Virgin Australia within a few months and do not plan to split it up.
The airline entered voluntary administration on April 21, and rapid sales are now expected.
“There are an extraordinary number of parties out there who would like to be involved,” Deloitte administrator Vaughan Strawbridge told reporters on Tuesday.
“This is a matter of months, no longer than that.”
As the hunt for a buyer progresses, employees who still have jobs will continue to receive their wages, and eligible personnel will receive JobKeeper payments from the government.
He said the move from Brisbane to Sydney headquarters is not being considered, but added that the problem with potential buyers would be resolved.
Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah said that a sale was the best way to ensure the airline survived after not being able to get the liquidity it needed from shareholders, governments and others.
“This is a tough day for our airline … (but) we are certainly not collapsing,” he said.
“It is our absolute intention to become stronger. Australia needs a second airline and we are committed to ensuring that we are that airline. ‘
He said the coronavirus crisis had cut off the airline’s oxygen supply, but hopefully a new buyer would make sure Australia has a second carrier when things return to normal.