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Australia news live: Qatar Airways hearing begins with ‘slot hoarding’ in focus; boost for maritime surveillance

Key events

Hearing into government’s decision to reject Qatar Airways routes begins

Sarah Basford Canales

The inquiry into the federal government’s decision-making process to grant or reject additional flights to airlines begins today in Sydney.

To bring you up to speed, the Coalition-majority committee is looking to get answers into why the transport minister, Catherine King, knocked back Qatar’s request to offer an additional 28 flights a week to Australia’s major cities.

So far, we’re heard a few of the “factors” that played into the decision – it wasn’t in the national interest, and that the Doha incident – where women were subject to invasive examinations in Qatar’s airport – was a backdrop.

But back to the hearings now. Today’s hearing will focus on alleged “slot hoarding” at Sydney Airport by airlines and the impact it has on prices and competition.

There’s been a bit of a last-minute scramble to get witnesses to front the inquiry but today we’re expecting to hear from Sydney Airport and Flight Centre.

Marque Lawyers, the legal firm representing the five Australian women who are suing Qatar Airways over the 2020 Doha incident, are also expected to appear.

There will be three more hearings after today wraps – one this Friday in Perth, and two next week in Brisbane and Canberra.

It’s expected Qantas, unions and Perth Airport will appear at the hearing this Friday.

Yesterday, it was confirmed the Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker would not be appearing, as well as former Qantas boss Alan Joyce, who is over in Europe.

Neither one has ruled out appearing at one of the other three hearings.


Good morning and welcome to our rolling news coverage. I’m Martin Farrer, bringing you some overnight headlines before Emily Wind takes over.

After two weeks of escalating rhetoric and division around the Indigenous voice to parliament referendum, the no camp has taken a majority lead in our polling series for the first time. Our latest Essential poll today shows the naysayers with an expected 51% of the vote. But 29% of the electorate are still “persuadable”.

A young woman remains in a critical condition in hospital this morning and another is in a stable condition after being stabbed at the Australian National University campus in Canberra yesterday. A 24-year-old man, who is not thought to be a student at the university, has been arrested.

The inquiry into the federal government’s decision-making process to grant or reject additional flights to airlines begins this morning, with the Coalition looking for answers about why Qatar Airways was denied new routes. Then at midday we get details of Labor’s first state budget in NSW for 10 years when the lockup ends and Daniel Mookhey reveals his secrets.

And Scott Morrison has told a church congregation in Perth that God will “sort out” the world’s problems, as he warned about an “increasingly hostile” world. Speaking at the Encounter City Church yesterday in a service commemorating its 50th anniversary, the former prime minister said that God has “a way of reminding us … who’s in charge and it’s not us – thank God for that”.

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