Mount Isa Mayor Joyce McCulloch has said the findings of a Senate Inquiry into airfares in regional Australia are insulting, and more needs to be done to fix exorbitant airfares to the region.
The federal government inquiry released its report last weekend with nine recommendations - including a call for another inquiry by the Productivity Commission - but found no evidence of price gouging.
Cr McCulloch disagreed.
"For too long our residents have had to put up with outrageously expensive airfares, particularly to Brisbane," Cr McCulloch said.
Residents have put up with outrageously expensive airfaresJoyce McCulloch
"This was an opportunity for both levels of government to show a deep understanding and commitment to issues that affect people living in regional areas. They've ignored the facts and stopped listening to the people who are affected by these issues."
Cr McCulloch said the federal government's 2015 White Paper on Developing Northern Australia committed to unlock the potential of the north, but the inquiry didn't support the paper.
"For all the talk of strengthening Northern Australia and unlocking the potential, I question how this can be done when people can't afford air travel in and out of one of Northern Queensland's largest cities," she said. "We also hear a lot of talk about decentralisation and what can be done to achieve it. Allowing exorbitant air fares to cities like our certainly won't help."
Cr McCulloch said the cost of airfares prohibited potential business growth, tourism opportunity and greater liveability and acted as a tax on those living in our region.
"It's often cheaper to fly direct from Brisbane to Hong Kong, Beijing, Tokyo or Auckland than it is to fly to Mount Isa," she said.
"This makes no sense. Mount Isa is in the top 40 Australian airports in passenger numbers, and figures show monthly passenger numbers at Mount Isa Airport are increasing, so there is no reason why we should be paying as much as we are.
"Something needs to be done to make our air fares fairer. Those living in regional or remote communities already have to contend with so many challenges as it is."
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