Sunday, 26 February 2017
I WON’T support any move which threatens the continuation of regular air passenger services between Moree and Sydney.
Moree’s air link with Sydney is crucial for business, health services, tourism and government services and it cannot be jeopardised.
I have had a number of discussions with the current carrier (QantasLink), Mayor Katrina Humphries and community members over the past few days. I welcome and am proud of the local community’s passion and determination to preserve this crucial transport link for the district and to maintain the regulated route. It is typical of Moree’s spirit.
QantasLink signed a contract through to the end of 2018 to service the Moree community, on the basis of exclusivity with a regulated route. In my view, that contract must be respected and honoured.
While we should have an open and informed conversation about whether a regulated or deregulated option is best for Moree and the continuation of an air service in the long term, no decision should be made, especially now, that negatively impacts the community.
Any discussion and decision-making process has to recognise the unique nature of the Moree to Sydney route, servicing around 34,000 passengers per year.
I’m not opposed to the principle of deregulation and I acknowledge that it may work in some places, but I feel strongly that it is not in the best interests of the Moree community at this time.
Exclusivity, via regulation, is currently vital for the Moree to Sydney route and the ability of the community to attract and retain a carrier. This may change in the future, but it is certainly the case at the moment.
That’s why I stand with the community and Moree Plains Shire Council to maintain the regulated route and will make every effort to ensure this occurs.
I will keep the community updated with progress, following the conclusion of the public consultation period.