Debates Day 3 - Thursday 21 October 2010
Parliamentary Record 15
Debates for 11th Assembly 2008 - 2012; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 11th Assembly 2008 - 2012
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Thursday 21 October 2010 international trade, in any aspect of government or private business in the Northern Territory. However, one of the basic requirements is a decent airline service. We have airlines facing the commercial realities of life - we know the airline industry is changing - however, we are seeing deterioration in services for the Northern Territory. The government recently gave an airline $8m to hub its aircraft in Darwin. I understood the deal was done, however, I read in the newspaper of 16 October, the deal may not be done. I am wondering if the champagne corks were popped a little early and the media releases claiming victory for Darwin were released a tad too early. We were well serviced in the past by Royal Brunei, Malaysian Airlines, Garuda Airlines and Qantas. The commercial realities of air travel have led to Royal Brunei, Malaysian Airlines and Garuda Airlines pulling out of Darwin. We have had cut-price airlines come in, and one accepts if that is the way it has to be and there is nothing we can do about it, that will inevitably be the way it occurs. However, this government has been in negotiation with Jetstar to bring the hub to Darwin with a gift of $8m. In a promise during the 2000 election, it was stated seven planes would be hubbing in Darwin with an additional 25 000 tourists each year, and nearly 600 extra workers. The Chief Minister said yesterday during Question Time about 191 jobs had been created. I am waiting to find out where the other 409 jobs are; it would also be interesting if government could let people in the Northern Territory know how many extra tourists arrived. We have lost the full-service airlines; we do not have the extra jobs or the extra tourists. On 15 December this year, Jetstar will be reducing its twice daily Darwin/Singapore service to one service. Unfortunately, when one checks the website the price to fly from Darwin to Singapore return has doubled. That brings me to servicing companies wanting to do business in the Territory. Suddenly the price goes up, it becomes a far more expensive operation to bring people in, and the ministerial statement acknowledges the importance of people-to-people contact. People doing business in Darwin, either Territory residents or foreign visitors, or us going overseas to negotiate business and trade, will discover it to be a costly exercise. We will have to take less people less often, which means less opportunity to engage with people and facilitate that very important people-to-people contact. When talking about export and trade, we export many education services from the Northern Territory. I acknowledge the work done by Charles Darwin University. A group of people facilitates the international student intake and does a fabulous job. The issue is - and I do not see it in the statement to encourage more students. We read what is occurring around Australia - I acknowledge the report I will refer to was not available when this statement was written - the media has reported we have lost 80% of our Indian students from Victorian universities. I hope the government, through any initiative - whether Charles Darwin University is attempting to entice students from Melbourne to Darwin, or the weather and our multicultural climate in the Northern Territory - would attract people. We come back to airfares and the cost of travel. We need to find some way of bringing airfares back to a reasonable price. After 15 December, the cost will increase to around $700, which is similar to a full-service airline. Jetstar came in with cheap travel - and I acknowledge Tiger Airways came in with cheap travel - and the full-service airlines have disappeared. The low cost carriers are increasing their prices by almost 100% at Christmas holiday time, when Territory families want to travel. I pointed out earlier today people in the Northern Territory, particularly Darwin, are not necessarily travelling south - many travel north. With our multicultural community, many people travelling over Christmas often return to Europe, America, Southeast Asia, Central Asia - they have families they want to see at that time of year. We now have an almost doubling of cost of airfares from Darwin to Singapore. This has an impact on companies wanting to headquarter their operations in the Northern Territory. Busy executives wanting to work on planes do not have business-class facilities between Singapore and Darwin. For some this may not be important - if we are on holidays and want low cost airfares we often put up with the services provided; we accept them. However, there are many business people and executives who need to travel on a regular basis and if they want to headquarter their companies here and get into export or mining, we need adequate services. That brings me to losing people. Recently, Arafura Resources decided to relocate its rare earth processing plant from Darwin to Whyalla, South Australia - a terrible blow for our local economy. I attended a briefing by the company in March and it had great hopes for locating in the Northern Territory. It appears there has been another problem with land allocation and, unfortunately, it decided not to process here. That has cost an estimated 1000 construction jobs and about 300 permanent jobs because we failed to 6512
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