Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick will “double-down” on striking a $200 million investment deal with Virgin Australia after the LNP opposition promised to end the talks.
The state Labor government is in negotiations to invest $200 million in the carrier, which was acquired for $3.5 billion by American fund Bain Capital earlier this month.
The government and airline reportedly have an in-principle agreement, but a formal deal is yet to be signed.
Liberal National Party deputy leader Tim Mander says if a deal still hasn’t been struck before the October 31 state election, his party will scrap the talks.
“If the deal hasn’t already been done by Labor, it won’t be done,” he said in a statement on Friday.
Mr Mander promised to reveal the details of any deal and accused the government of “cowardly” hiding behind claims they were commercial in confidence.
“If it’s a good deal, they should be up-front with Queenslanders,” he said.
Mr Dick lashed out at the LNP for putting the deal in jeopardy, and promised to push it through before the government goes into caretaker mode on October 6.
“I’m going to have to double down on my efforts now because of the recklessness of the LNP,” the treasurer said.
Mr Dick said the deal is centred on keeping Virgin’s headquarters in Brisbane, maintaining air routes and protecting local jobs.
Mr Mander said the $200 million would be better off invested in a tourism and marketing fund, but the treasurer said there was no point in spruiking tourism without cost-effective travel.
Mr Dick said keeping Virgin in Queensland will maintain price competition and keep the cost of travel affordable.
“We need two airlines to keep airfares down,” he said.
The treasurer also warned that Bain had been considering relocating Virgin, and claimed the NSW government had already spent $1 million on consultants to woo the airline to western Sydney.
“There’s one person that’s happy today and there’s one person that’s on the phone to Bain – and that’s (NSW Premier) Gladys Berejiklian,” he said.
Queenslanders go to the polls on October 31.
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