ACTU affiliates represent the hundreds of thousands of Australian workers who are either directly employed by the Australian aviation industry or whose jobs are supported by that industry. Unions have watched as this industry has been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic, following on from years of deliberate action to undermine job security and quality in the sector. We welcome the opportunity to participate in this inquiry.

The Australian aviation industry was facing significant issues at the end of 2019, issues which varied across the industry in both their precise nature and severity, but which were universally serious and largely unaddressed. These issues ranged from the collapse in job security and the insecure work crisis occurring in ground operations through to serious issues with deskilling and outsourcing in crucial safety and regulatory roles. At the end of 2019, these issues desperately needed to be addressed. 2020, and the COVID-19 pandemic, has only exacerbated these issues. The Australian aviation industry is about to complete arguably its most difficult year ever, a year which has presented significant threats to the industry and which has nearly destroyed one of Australia’s two major airlines.

This reality has been significantly worsened by a combination of government inaction, at times deliberate neglect of aviation workers, and corporate bad behaviour. That this inquiry focuses on the future of the industry is timely and appropriate. Australia needs a strong aviation sector, and this past year has exposed the reality that we cannot afford for it to continue along its current path. COVID-19 has, as it has in so many other sectors, exposed critical fault lines within the industry which must be addressed by government and regulators to ensure the continuation of a safe and productive aviation sector into the future.