Candidates explain how to bring down regional flight costs
WITH 18 days remaining in the 2019 federal election campaign, Capricornia's candidates have shared their answers to The Morning Bulletin's latest question: How can the Federal Government help to bring down the cost of flying to Rockhampton, Mackay and the coalfields?
The Greens - Paul Bambrick
"The Greens are the party of Public Ownership. It's very positive that the local council in Rockhampton owns the Rocky Airport," Mr Bambrick said.
"We support sustainable policies to make flights more affordable across the regions, where the tyranny of distance can bite hard.
"We also need to upgrade other infrastructure as well. Rail needs to be revived, and we need to close the digital divide that prevents people in the regions from doing business remotely, for instance via teleconference.
"We want to make this area into a hub in more ways than one, so that transport and digital commerce can work together."
Katter's Australian Party - George Birkbeck
"All levels of government should leverage their purchasing power. Governments are a major customer of airlines, so leveraging this power should lead to things like compassionate fares."
"We would hope that the airlines would be proactive in voluntarily reducing fares and adopt consistent good corporate practices.
"However, if they don't deliver then regulated airfares and community service obligations could be introduced as part of a Special Economic Zone legislated. All levels of government should leverage their purchasing power. Governments are a major customer of airlines, so leveraging this power should lead to things like compassionate fares."
Labour DLP - Richard Temple
"This is a difficult question to answer, I understand both the pros and cons to the cost of flying into the coalfields," Mr Temple said.
"Having a higher expense on these flights increases the incentive for coal workforce personnel to live in the region and contribute to the region's economy however it decreases the use of our local airports by tourists. People are driving to nearby towns to fly outbounds rather than Mackay and Rockhampton due to the cost.
"Specific tickets designated to coalfields employees. An agreement between airlines and the mines to ensure the inflation of tickets is not a major inconvenience to those not flying for mining purposes."
Independent - Ken Murray
Aviation Companies have underlying fixed costs that make it hard to shimmy down fares," Mr Murray said.
"However, all aviation fuel incurs an increased fuel excise tax of 38.6 cents per litre. This has forced airlines to charge even higher prices.
"As your Independent for Capricornia, I'd push for a rebate of the fuel excise tax, to airlines going to our "remote" region, provided that the discount goes to us passengers.
"Costs for miners flying to the coalfields could be cut to zero, if the Government provided tax incentives so they could easily DIDO rather than FIFO. Better for families all round."
LNP - Michelle Landry
"There is no denying the cost of flights into and out of CQ have got to a ridiculous level," Ms Landry said.
"There is however, no simple answers to getting those prices back down. There are things we are doing to minimise the costs incurred by travellers.
"Recent upgrades to the runway and taxiways at Rockhampton airport was completed using $5 million federal funding, which represents a cost that won't be passed on to travellers.
"The big advancement will come when we build our population base and are able to encourage holiday traffic to regularly fly in and out of CQ again.
"That's why we need Rookwood Weir and the KBSC Convention Centre."
ALP - Russell Robertson
"Labor's $100 million regional airports upgrade package will allow tourism airports like Rockhampton to clear the backlog with projects funded on a dollar-for-dollar basis," Mr Robertson said.
"Better maintenance of regional airports will not only improve the tourist experience, but more importantly, ensure that airports maintain the highest possible levels of safety.
"With Federal Labor support, these grants will displace some of the cost of maintenance and this will not be needed to be recovered from airfares, placing downward pressure on ticket prices to these regional airports."
One Nation - Wade Rothery
"Ultimately competition leads to lower airfare prices, as seen with flights from Brisbane to Proserpine that start at just $69," Mr Rothery told The Morning Bulletin.
"Our region once attracted larger tourist numbers when Great Keppel Island was fully operational and Iwasaki Resort and golf course were the jewel in our coastal crown. Those tourist numbers have dwindled, cutting Tiger and Jetstar services from our daily choice of airlines.
"What's left is a duopoly between Virgin and Qantas. If you want cheaper airfares, we must get Great Keppel Island back up and running and drive demand on flights, which in turn drives competition and lower prices."
United Australia Party - Lindsay Sturgeon
"We recognise access to our regions is vital and positive consultation with all stakeholders will provide the best result," Lindsay said.