Mount Isa City Council calls for cheaper air travel

THE MOUNT Isa City Council says high-priced air travel is holding back efforts to attract new jobs and investment to the Gulf Country – and isolating those who chose to live and work in the mining town.

In a media release tied to its submission to the Senate inquiry on the “operation, regulation and funding of air services to rural, regional and remote communities”, the Council said it wanted a better deal from airlines and governments.

Mayor Joyce McCulloch said: “Our economy is worth $1 billion annually to the state and federal treasuries, and yet grandparents can’t afford to visit their grandkids, and families can’t afford holidays without first driving 900km to Townsville”.

The excessive cost of air travel for Mount Isa residents and visitors was unjust and out of step with government objectives to develop northern Australia and grow regional economies, Mayor McCulloch said.

“How can the Australian Government talk up the development of northern Australia when airfares out of Mount Isa are three times the cost of flights from metropolitan centres?”

At the Australian Local Government Association annual conference in June 2017, Mount Isa City Council put forward a motion calling on the federal government “to ensure the cost of airfares and transport in remote and rural areas provides economic and affordable access to all residents”.

Submissions to the Senate inquiry, which closed on 5 February, also came from the Shire of Broome, the District Council of Grant, the McKinlay Shire Council, the Alice Springs Town Council, the Shire of Christmas Island, Longreach Regional Council, and the Banana Shire Council.

The Committee is due to present its inquiry findings by 30 March, 2018.