‘Very comfortable’: Treasurer on $200m airline bid

TREASURER Cameron Dick has assured Queenslanders the state can afford a Virgin Airlines bid while not ruling out offering more than the $200 million already announced.

Mr Dick said he was satisfied with the level of risk because, "It's critical for the nation to have two airlines."

"I'm very comfortable with where we are. We're going to be smart and canny with our money," Mr Dick said.

"I know it's not my money, it's other people's money, it belongs to Queenslanders, we're going to be very careful about this."

The new Treasurer said Queenlsand was going to "strike a very hard bargain".

"Foreign banks and foreign bond holders - they're going to have to take a haircut out of this, they're going to have to pay a price because we need the best possible airline in the best possible shape out of administration to look after Queensland and to look after our nation as our second national airline."

Mr Dick said Queensland could afford it.

"The issue is … not doing anything, failing to act, refusing to engage with this issue creates all sorts of uncertainty and ultimately unemployment for Queensland," he said

Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick at a press conference this morning. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP
Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick at a press conference this morning. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP

He said Queensland Investment Corporation was working on a comprehensive strategy to ensure the state was in the best position to be a partner in a successful bid.

"That may form an equity stake, it may be a loan, it may be some sort of concessional arrangement, it may be some sort of other financial instrument," he said.

"It's not the intention of the Queensland Government to purchase the airline in its entirety but we want to take a strategic stake to preserve and protect jobs."

The Treasurer slammed Peter Dutton after his comments, claiming he couldn't understand why the Federal Government wasn't backing Queensland.

"They're happy to put $198 million into Rex but all of a sudden Peter Dutton doesn't want to support his own state," he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison today said the federal government had resisted "very pre-emptive and rather dangerous" calls to bail out Virgin before it went into administration but he would not comment on the Queensland government's potential bid.

"We're not going to put a commentary on this bid or that bid," he said.

"And what we want is a commercial airline that can stand on its own two feet and employ the thousands of Australians that it does and be successful."

He said there were many bids coming in for Virgin and he looked forward to the administrators choosing the best arrangements

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg welcomed the voluntary administrators getting closer to whittling down the list of potential buyers and restated the government's hope for a "market solution".

"The federal government's not in the business of owning an airline," he said.

Originally published as 'Very comfortable': Treasurer on $200m airline bid



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