In November there was an announcement that caused a great deal of concern in this part of the world.
The Federal Senate inquiry into the operation, regulation and funding of air route service delivery to rural, regional and remote communities, had announced it had delayed its due date for the fourth time – this time to June 27, 2019.
The concern was twofold. The delay was caused by the inability to wrangle the major airlines into appearing at a hearing likely to be held in Sydney or Canberra. We have been waiting months for this hearing – and it still has not been announced where or when it will happen. You didn’t need to be a cynic to see that the airlines might be doing all in their power to avoid answering awkward questions about their business practices in regional areas.
The second concern is procedural but equally important.
The new delay puts the end timeframe of the inquiry past the next federal election date – which everyone expects to be held in May, with the government even scheduling an early budget to make this prospect more likely.
Like many other I am frustrated by this delay and now there is a possibility the whole inquiry could be declared null and void unless the new parliament decides to take it on again.
Yet I accept this is a complex issue and it will take time to for busy parliamentarians and airline executives to get their ducks and drakes lined up both to have a hearing and then write a report after it.
And I would rather this not be rushed and we end up with a less-than-optimal outcome.
So ahead of the election I call on candidates to commit to doing all in their power to ensure the inquiry is resumed as quickly as possible post election.
I publicly call on the LNP and ALP candidates for Kennedy (Frank Beveridge and Brett McGuire) and prospective Senators to make their positions known on this as well as whoever will be the KAP candidate (everyone expects this to be incumbent Bob Katter, though Mr Katter has yet to formally declare for the election).
The North West Star is determined to make the continuation of this inquiry a major issue for the 2019 election. Derek Barry