Qatar Airways decision impacted by Doha airport strip-search: Catherine King

“Your experience remains in my thoughts, as well as those of my colleagues,” she said in the July 10 letter. “The Australian government is not considering additional bilateral air rights with Qatar.”

Regarding the letter, on she told the press conference on Thursday: “Read what you will into that.”

The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age reported on July 26 that King denied the reason for blocking Qatar having greater access to Australia’s aviation market was related to the treatment of women.

“I wouldn’t link the decision not to continue to engage with Qatar,” she said. “I’m sure Qatar will continue to come to Australia and continue to ask for air rights, and we don’t want to consider that at the moment.”

King said the decision to refuse Qatar was made in the national interest, but added that it did not include the commercial interests of Qantas or any other airline, and said it was “absolute nonsense” that competition in Australia’s international aviation market relied solely on Qatar.


“I mean, really, that is an absolute nonsense, and somehow seems to be tied up with people’s anger about Qantas, and I get that, I get why people are angry about Qantas,” she said of the airline.

King said she informed Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of her decision on July 10 but did not make it public until July 18.

King said her department would have consulted industry members before she made her decision, and while she spoke with colleagues – whom she did not name – she said was responsible for the decision.

This week, the Coalition secured the numbers in the Senate to launch an inquiry into the Qatar decision, which Liberal frontbencher James Paterson said would not have been needed if King had provided “honest answers” when asked.

“She’s been asked in the parliament, she’s been asked in the media and still today – weeks on from the scandal first emerging – she has failed to give a simple, clear explanation for why she made the decision … to refuse this request from Qatar to have extra flights into Australian airports,” he said on Thursday.

“It is an explanation which just frankly defies credibility. None of the explanations she’s given are convincing, none of them are trustworthy. And that’s why we have to have this inquiry to get to the bottom of it.”

With Caroline Schelle

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