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Questions arise about REX and politics

Questions arise about REX and politics

The Anthony Klan article certainly is an expose on the matter of apparent interference with the political process in Australia. This type of behaviour may explain why CASA is so keen to work on being an “Un-model Litigant”.

Is there some connections in this as regards to the:

  • Aero-medical contract award in Victoria??
  • Terminal access at Sydney Airport to the limited terminal space;
  • Award of the Area Air Operator’s Certificate (AAOC)??

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Regional Express (Rex) announced today [11th December 2014] that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has issued to Rex an Area Air Operator’s Certificate (AAOC). The AAOC will provide Rex with the flexibility to expand its vast Regular Passenger Transport (RPT) regional network without the need for CASA to approve each new port. Rex’s newly awarded AAOC will cover all of Australia.

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Airline Rex ‘can’t explain’ its massive donations to political parties

The Australian January 20, 2015 12:00AM

Anthony Klan
Journalist
Sydney
https://plus.google.com/110790254144288601738/

LISTED airline Rex has been unable to explain why it made unprecedented, massive donations to political parties two years ago, at the same time as an investigation into the crash of one of its aircraft was being conducted.

Last month, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss called for the reopening of an investigation into the ditching of a Pel-Air plane carrying six passengers into the ocean near Norfolk Island in 2009, after systemic “errors” were found in the initial report. Pel-Air is a fully owned subsidiary of Regional Express, or Rex.

The investigation into the crash, which involved one serious injury, took the Australian Transport Safety Board almost three years to complete but did not mention 57 breaches or “serious deficiencies” at Pel Air found by regulator the Civil Aviation and Safety Authority.

Until 2012, the only political donation Rex had made was $3486 to the ALP in the year to June 2004. Then between July and November 2012, the company donated $250,000 of shareholder funds to the federal ALP, $95,700 to federal Nationals and $40,000 to the Liberal Party, marking it as one of the biggest political donors in the nation.

Rex spokeswoman Alicia Chapple refused to comment yesterday when asked why the airline had made the donations, whether they were related to the Pel Air investigation, or whether Rex welcomed the reopening of that investigation.

The donations have raised extra question marks because Rex has repeatedly described the airline industry as being in crisis, stating it was “beyond crisis”, and highlighting the “graveyard” of collapsed rivals in its last annual report.

It was unclear why it had donated $250,000 to the federal ALP when shortly afterwards, ahead of the 2013 federal election, the group warned the aviation industry would struggle if the ALP were re-elected.

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REX and the Board:

There is another article in this series, which bears some thought. This goes to the deep relationships with PelAir and other “movers and shakers”. These include again Ronald Bartsch, who turns up as a Board member of REX>

Another case [perhaps] of a conflict of interest – it would certainly be of some interest to any GA person if they have the mis-fortune to appear before Member Bartsch of the AAT.

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Rex won’t match high-flying generosity of former rival Skytrans

REX airline, which won a major Queensland government contract that contributed to the collapse of its rival Skytrans, donates more to political parties than it does to the communities in which it operates.

The Cairns-based Skytrans, which had more than 200 employees, collapsed two weeks ago after 25 years, after losing contracts.

A key criticism was that the government tender process did not account for sponsorships and community support from carriers.

Skytrans had delivered multi-­million-dollar sponsorships and endorsement­s to com­munities in Queensland, don­ating to more than 250 organisations before its demise.

Regional Express, or Rex, has indicated it will not match the benev­olence of Skytrans, saying it would deliver sponsorships and community support in the same manner as other communities it services.

“Rex will support the communities of the regulated routes in the same manner and to the same extent Rex has supported the communities of the other parts of our network,” a Queensland spokeswoman said.

According to Rex’s annual report for the year to last June, the company contributed less than $200,000 to sponsorships and community projects across its network, which is far bigger than Skytrans’s had been, covering the eastern states and South Australia.

Skytrans had sponsored NQ Rescue, Mount Isa Rodeo and Northern Pride rugby league among many other organisations.

“While we were renowned for the large-scale sponsorships like the $2 million injected into the Cairns Taipans … it is the other 250-plus sponsorships to smaller organisations worth millions of dollars more where we really felt we made a difference to the livability of remote and regional communities,” Skytrans founder Simon Wild said after its collapse.

The deputy chairman and non-executive director of Rex is John Sharp, the Nationals’ federal treasurer, who was federal transport minister under John Howard. He was forced to resign from parliament in 1997 after the “travel rorts affair”, which saw David Jull and Peter McGauran forced to resign.

When contacted by The Australian about any potential conflict of interest between Mr Sharp’s political connections and Rex, a spokeswoman said there was no conflict. Mr Sharp had no involvement with the group’s “internal preparations” over the bid or “any contact with the Queensland government over that period”.

The Queensland government said the tender process was fair and transparent. The Rex spokeswoman said: “Rex has not made any political donations to the LNP.”

However, searches of Austral­ian Electoral Commission donations records show Rex made two donations totalling $95,700 to the federal Nationals in the year to June 2013, the most recent period for which record have been ­published.

During that year it also donated $40,000 to the federal Liberal Party and $250,000 to the ALP.

The total annual donations of $385,700 — double the amount Rex donates annually to the communities where it operates — established­ the small listed carrier as one of the biggest political ­donors for the year.

When questioned about its claim not to have donated to the LNP, the spokeswoman said: “To clarify, Rex has not made any political contributions to the Queensland state LNP”.

Rex’s accounts show Mr Sharp received a salary of $98,000 from the airline last year, which was well above the salaries of his fellow non-executive directors Lee Thian Soo, Ronald Bartsch and James Davies, who each earned between $30,000 and $38,000.

When asked about Mr Sharp’s remuneration, the Rex spokeswoman said: “We leave it to the market to judge if Rex’s scale of directo­rs’ fees are reasonable.”

Cairns Chamber of Commerce chief executive Deb Hancock described the move to award the north Queensland contracts to Rex as a “slap in the face” to locals.

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Rex airline freebies ‘so MPs better informed’

The Australian
February 25, 2015 12:00AM

Anthony Klan
Journalist
Sydney
https://plus.google.com/110790254144288601738/

REGIONAL airline Rex yesterday claimed to have given federal ALP and National Party politicians hundreds of free flights — worth more than $130,000 — in a bid to explain why it made $385,000 in disclosed political ­donations in 2012.

Convening the listed airline’s half-year results yesterday, Rex deputy chairman John Sharp said that the donated flights were for ­“politicians to get out into regional Australia” in order to be “better ­informed”.

“We made these donations ­because we felt the elections were coming in 2013 and we felt it was very important that the federal leaders get out to the bush and ­explain themselves to the bush,” Mr Sharp said.

Separately, Mr Sharp is the ­federal treasurer of the National Party and was a federal transport minister under John Howard before resigning in 1997 after a travel rorts affair, which saw fellow ­ministers David Jull and Peter ­McGauran also forced to resign.

Political donations made by Rex have raised questions after it emerged the relatively small listed company declared $385,700 in political donations in 2012, making it one of the nation’s biggest ­donors that year.

The declared donations inclu­ded gifts of $250,000 to the federal ALP, $95,700 to the federal National Party and $40,000 to the federal Liberal Party.

(The only other political donations the company had ever made was $3486 to the ALP in the year to June 2004.)

Rex reported an after-tax profit of $14.01m for the 2012-13 financial year, and paid no dividends to shareholders. At the time Rex was making those 2012 donations — between July and November — the company was subject to an ­investigation by the Air Traffic Safety Bureau into the 2009 crash of an aircraft operated under its Pel-Air brand off Norfolk Island.

That investigation attracted controversy after it emerged, in August 2012, that the ATSB report had failed to mention 57 breaches or “serious deficiencies” at Pel-Air, which had been identified in a ­separate report by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

That revelation sparked a parli­amentary inquiry that reported in December, leading the federal government to call on the ATSB to launch a new probe into the ­accident.

Mr Sharp and Rex chief executive Lim Kim Hai both strenuously denied the donations had been made with the view to seek influence in any way.

“We had no dealings other than proper dealings,” Mr Sharp said.

Mr Sharp said the second draft of the ATSB report into the Norfolk Island crash had been submitted in the first half of 2012, before Rex had made the donations.

When asked why Rex had made the donations, Mr Lim said: “It’s a big country, Australia, and there are a lot of Labor politicians.

“Many didn’t understand the issues that were happening in the industry.”

However, the ultimate recipients of the flights remained unclear, with ALP national secretary George Wright yesterday telling The Australian the flights had been used by party campaigners.

“It’s a contribution to the federal office of the ALP and used for campaigning,” Mr Wright said.

“It is not a contribution to MPs.”

Under parliamentary disclosure rules, MPs must disclose any travel or hospitality received where the value exceeds $300.

Rex has repeatedly declined to comment when asked by The Australian why the donations were made.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon — who was part of a Senate inquiry into the Pel-Air crash — has previously described the Rex donations as “incredibly baffling”.

Mr Sharp said yesterday that the donations had been in-kind to the political parties in the form of free flights.

Mr Li said the ALP had used about $40,000 of the $250,000 in free flights offered, which was “about 100” flights.

Mr Sharp said he believed that the federal National Party had redeemed the full $95,700 worth of flights offered, while the federal Liberal Party had not used any of the $40,000 worth of flights it was offered.

Mr Li said Rex flights typically were about 55 per cent full, which meant the cost to shareholders of the donations was minimal.

Rex shares closed down 10 per cent yesterday at 98c.

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