The decision announced today by Qantas to close its Avalon heavy maintenance base at the end of March 2014 is bitterly disappointing.
This is, frankly, a black day for our entire region.
My thoughts are with the 299 Qantas and Forstaff Aviation workers who have lost their jobs, their families, as well as affected communities and businesses.
I have been a very strong advocate for Avalon Airport and its potential as an international airport and jobs hub for our region.
Since Qantas’ review was announced, I have been in constant discussions with Qantas management and the unions which represent workers at the base, the Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association and the Australian Workers Union.
Two weeks ago, I visited the Qantas heavy maintenance base and spoke to many of the workers about the review. While I appreciate that Qantas has a business to run, I reiterated that the airline should leave no stone unturned in its efforts to protect local jobs and keep the base open. Earlier this week, I wrote to Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce, requesting that his airline not desert Avalon and the people of Geelong.
The Federal Coalition’s commitment to the $24.5 million Geelong Region Innovation and Investment Fund is providing much needed funding support for jobs growth in our region. As a government, we are working hard to support Australian industry by abolishing the carbon tax, cutting the company tax rate, cutting $1 billion of red tape each year and making it easier for business to invest.
Across Geelong and the Corangamite region, job security and job creation are so important. It is now incumbent on Qantas to reiterate its commitment to Jetstar’s domestic airline operations at Avalon Airport where another 90 people are employed.