Debates Day 3 - Thursday 19 November 2015
Parliamentary Record 24
Debates for 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Thursday 19 November 2015 7439 The Country Liberals government has made no secret of its commitment to developing the north. It is the only way we will see the Territory reach its full potential in the future. This new air service is another sign of that commitment. By partnering with Airnorth to deliver this air service, we are connecting Territory businesses with the outside world. The feedback from business operators in my electorate of Katherine has been overwhelming. We are also connecting people, making it easier for them to get in and out of our regional centres. That is an important consideration for people who are considering a permanent move to somewhere like Katherine, making it a much more attractive place to live. Then there is the connection to tourism. This new air service is making our major tourist attractions more easily accessible to everyone. Places like the magnificent Nitmiluk National Park, Mataranka thermal pools and the majestic scenery of the Victoria River region are a few examples of those, or the I have to get the pronunciation right, the member for Barkly might help me here Mr McCarthy: Nyinkka Nyunyu. Mr WESTRA van HOLTHE: Nyinkka Nyunyu thank you, member for Barkly in Tennant Creek, one of Australias finest cultural centres. Then there is Alice Springs, famous for its traditional art and natural wonders, including the stunning Larapinta Trail and the MacDonnell Ranges which surround it. In the first two weeks of the service operating, 278 passengers took advantage of the new Centre run route. That was a great outcome for the people of the Northern Territory. This route will be trialled over a two-year period with the aim of a permanent service once the viability has been tested. I encourage Territorians and visitors to make the most of this service and ensure it has wings for many years to come. Airnorth has committed to operating the service on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week. That service departs from Darwin at 7.30 am, arrives in Katherine at 8.15 am, and then goes on to Tennant Creek and Alice Springs, returning in the same day, arrives back in Katherine a bit before 4 pm, if my memory serves me right, and then continues on to Darwin. It is quite easy, particularly for visitors to Katherine, to come down just for the day. They can be in town by 8.30 am if the flight lands at 8.15 am, with 15 minutes into town. They can do a days work there and be back at the airport in the afternoon in time to catch the flight back to Darwin. Travelling in the other direction from Katherine to Darwin, one of the most convenient aspects of this service is that you could spend a weekend in Darwin escape from Katherine and do what many people do, a bit of shopping over the weekend or take advantage of the attractions of Darwin and the night life leaving on Friday afternoon, then be back in Katherine landing at 8.15 am on Monday morning, ready for work later that morning. If you were an 8.30 am or 9 am starter on the Monday, then you could most certainly be back in time for work. I am very pleased to inform the House that I have already used this service several times. Aside from being extremely convenient, Airnorth also provides the very best of service, making it a quick and enjoyable journey. It is only 45 minutes between Darwin and Katherine. It is important that I also mention affordability. The flight from Darwin to Katherine costs as little as $149 one way. That is pretty darn competitive, considering the cost of running a vehicle if you are going to drive between Katherine and Darwin. Then there is also the time factor a three-hour drive versus a 45-minute flight plus a little lead-in time either way. Airnorths commitment to keeping prices low means this service is accessible to the vast majority of Territorians. I am not sure what the other fares are, but they are available to be viewed on the website. A number of people I know in Katherine have used the service to travel south as well, to get to Tennant Creek and Alice Springs because it is, for them, one of the most convenient ways to do so. I am terribly proud to be part of the government that has delivered this great service to the Northern Territory. I encourage people to use this service. At the time of announcing the commencement of the service, we made no bones about the fact that government is subsidising this service for a trial period. That came with the further advice that the cost to government could be significantly reduced if many people use the service. That translates to more bums on seats on this service will mean the government has to subsidise it less. I hope the service gets to a point where it will be viable and stand on its own two feet. It is heading in the right direction. I travelled on the service from Darwin to Katherine a couple of weeks ago and noted that the service was about two-thirds full, which I thought was a pretty good effort. It was a 30-seater aircraft. To have twothirds of the seats taken on that flight was a pretty good achievement. It probably bodes well for the future of that service and its viability.