Deregulation: Marshall stands with community

UPDATE: Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall said he wont 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.”

He said 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.

Mr Marshall believed any discussion and decision-making process hadto 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.

LAST WEEK: MOREE Plains Shire councillors unanimously voted against deregulation at a meeting on Thursday night.

General manager Lester Rodgers said it was the most commitment he’d seen so far from the current council, taking a forthright position to support regulation.

“A submission will be prepared, having regard for survey results and discussions at the community meeting, on behalf of the community to tell the Minister we want a regulated route to remain,” Mr Rodgers said.

Mayor Katrina Humphries said deregulation was discussed in debate at length.

“I’m proud to be a capitalist but there are somethings you have to be smart about and sometimes competition kills and we just haven’t got enough people, I believe, travelling to maintain more than one air service.”

Councillors, together, addressed points set out by Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance for their submission.

“We recorded the town meeting and will have survey results also included,” she said.

During their meeting, Minister Constance sent out a statement that said better services and lower prices were behind the NSW Government decision to deregulate air services.

“Since we deregulated four routes last year (Cobar, Cooma, Mudgee and Narrabri), new services have started on three of them and on the fourth (Narrabri) the council recently announced it has chosen Northwest Airlines to operate services to Sydney.”

The statement noted that keeping regulated routes did not guarantee it would remain in place.

“all it does is add unnecessary red tape and therefore cost for regional operators.

“I am determined to give regions the fair access to essential services they are crying out for.”

He said pursuing deregulation increased competition, reduced barriers for new entrants to the market and reduced costs to passengers.

“We are also committed to lobbying the Federal Government to open up an extra five slots at Sydney Airport reserved specifically for regional routes.”

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