Queensland Minister for State Development Cameron Dick has slammed New South Wales for attempting to relocate the headquarters of ailing airline Virgin Australia (ASX: VAH) to Sydney.
Speaking to the press this morning Dick told New South Wales Treasurer Dominic Perrottet to "back off", saying his state will fight to keep Virgin and 1,200 head office jobs in Queensland.
"There is nothing more dangerous than Queenslanders with their backs to the wall; we will stop at nothing to ensure the headquarters of Virgin remains in Queensland," said Dick.
"New South Wales might want to bring a peashooter to the fight, that's fine. We'll bring a bazooka and we're not afraid to use it."
The inflammatory comments come after Queensland offered Virgin a $200 million support package on the condition it keep the head office in Brisbane, where the airline has been for the past 20 years.
Dick has also called upon the Federal Government and Virgin shareholders to offer the airline further support to ensure Australia has two national airlines at the end of the Covid-19 crisis.
"Virgin is flying through a cyclone and we need everyone on the ground to help this airline land, and the one air traffic controller that hasn't turned up, the one air traffic controller that is not on duty is the Prime Minister," said Dick.
"We are calling on Scott Morrison to come to the party and show some national leadership. This is a national airline in a national crisis, and it needs a national response."
Dick's war of words comes as Virgin is facing voluntary administration after being suspended from trading on the ASX last week.
According to Queensland Minister for State Development Cameron Dick it is important Australia has two national carriers to support tourism, jobs and regional investment.
"Queensland has given Australia both our national airlines we won't let them go, or let thousands of families watch their jobs go, without a fight," says Dick.
"The Queensland Government is ready to do its bit to support, offering $200 million towards a national support package to help get Virgin get back in the skies.
"But we can't do it alone, and nor should we, because all parts of Australia benefit from two national airlines. We need the Australian Government to lead a national effort to keep our two great airlines flying."
The proposed $200 million relief package is conditional on federal government backing, debt restructuring, shareholders and bond holders contributing, the airline's headquarters remaining in Brisbane and ongoing support for regional flights.
"We know other investors are looking at Virgin too," says Dick.
"Our message to potential investors is that we are prepared to put money on the line to keep a national carrier based in Queensland."
The Queensland Government's offer follows the Federal Government's decision to underwrite $165 million of flights for both Virgin and Qantas (ASX: QAN).
Updated at 10:47am AEST on 20 April 2020.
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