High airfares investigated

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Jakeb WaddellBroome Advertiser
Broome business owners providing evidence at the public hearing in Broome today
Camera IconBroome business owners providing evidence at the public hearing in Broome today Credit: Jakeb Waddell

Expensive airfares have an impact on tourism, business, education, health and family, a committee was told at a public hearing in Broome last week.

Economics and Industry Standing Committee members Jessica Shaw, Sean L’Estrange, Yaz Mubarakai, Stephen Price and Terry Redman visited the town as part of their inquiry into the regional airfares in WA.

They heard evidence from key organisations and groups from the Kimberley, as well as the Shire of Broome. Shire representatives, including acting president Harold Tracey, argued that airfares had an impact on the number of tourists entering the town, as well as access to family, health and education in the metro area.

They put forward a number of recommendations to the committee, including a State Government facilitation of pricing on the Broome to Perth route.

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The Shire said that while they support and encourage oil and gas operations in town, fly-in, fly-out workers take up a number of budget seats on flights, leaving other passengers with costly fares.

Shire chief executive Sam Mastrolembo recommended a fixed price ticket for locals, similar to an initiative used in Queensland.

Broome International Airport chief executive Paul McSweeney gave evidence with manager commercial Kimberley Krenz and projects director Rob Menzies.

They highlighted that State Government initiatives around Australia have proven to be effective, using the example of the Victorian Government’s contribution towards budget airline flights on the Melbourne to Townsville route.

He said it was too soon to tell if oil and gas operations had influenced flight prices in any way.

Broome Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Peter Taylor and chief executive Jael Napper gave evidence on the impact of airfares on businesses in town.

Ms Napper said businesses and staff miss out on important development opportunities because of the high cost of travel.

The Chamber emphasised their intention was not to “bash” airlines, but to work towards an innovative solution to the issues businesses and tourism face as a result of expensive airfares.

Ms Napper said she’s confident Broome, “put forward a compelling case to the inquiry.”

“I look forward to learning their recommendations,” she said.

Cygnet Bay managing director James Brown , who is also chair of the Broome Tourism Leadership Group, said the town is perceived as too expensive by travellers and is constantly having to be packaged as something that is “worth it.”

A forum was held at The Broome Civic Centre after the hearing, where the public had the opportunity to voice their concerns regarding airfares.

About 50 people attended a forum at Broome Civic Centre after the hearing, with a number venting frustrations about feeling “trapped” in a regional town.

The committee are expected to report their findings on November 28.

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