Pat Weir, Trevor Watts and Andrew Powell in Toowoomba.
Pat Weir, Trevor Watts and Andrew Powell in Toowoomba. Tom Gillespie

Minister slams LNP's pilot academy 'pork-barrel' claims

THE LNP appears to have thrown its weight behind Toowoomba's bid to house the new Qantas pilot training academy.

Opposition spokesman on state development Andrew Powell subtly accused the State Government of trying to coerce Qantas to pick Mackay over Toowoomba for the new facility, during a visit to the Garden City today.

The decision on the location is made solely by Qantas, with pitches submitted by airports across Australia.

Mr Powell said he was concerned that State Development Minister Cameron Dick would coerce Qantas to give it to Mackay, because his assistant was Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert.

"I am concerned that we may see something go to Mackay, simply because the assistant minister is there," he said.

"We know Queensland is where Qantas should be basing its pilot training academy. We think Toowoomba stacks up pretty well so we want this decision based on strict criteria, not pork-barrelling.

"We had a very interesting comment from the minister when Pat asked him a question about this in the parliament last week, and he said loudly, 'I'm backing Mackay', and then tried to laugh and joke about the assistant minister being behind him."

Mr Dick slammed Mr Powell's comments, saying they could potentially put Qantas off picking Queensland at all.

"The message this sends to Qantas is, if you choose one side in Queensland, your decision will be the subject of a political controversy," he said.

"We are drawing Qantas into a political fight because of the LNP's actions, and that's the last thing we want.

"What the LNP is doing is jeopardising jobs in regional Queensland."



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