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Democrats call for regional transport plan to deal with Ansett crisis.

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Senator John Cherry Australian Democrats

Regional Development spokesperson & Senator for Queensland

October 8, 2001 MEDIA RELEASE 01/598

Democrats call for regional transport plan to deal with Ansett crisis The Australian Democrats have called for a regional transport plan to ensure that tourism reliant regions like Cairns, the Whitsundays and the Gold Coast recover rapidly from the shock of the collapse of Ansett.

Democrats’ Regional Development spokesperson and Queensland Senator John Cherry, campaigning in Cairns today, said the Federal Government had failed to recognise the impact that the collapse on Ansett was having on tourism-reliant economies like Cairns.

“We have seen deals to get regional air services back into small rural towns and to get capacity back onto the major trunk routes between the capital cities. But we have not seen any plan advanced to get capacity back to the major Queensland tourism centres of Cairns, the Whitsundays and the Gold Coast,” Senator Cherry said.

“In the Cairns area, there were already 4500 unemployed people before the Ansett crisis hit and that number has almost certainly increased.

“The problem is that the Federal Government has no polices to deal adequately with the impact of the Ansett collapse on the tourism industry, and no strategy to promote regional development.

“The much vaunted Regional Australia policy launched last month offered just $3 a year for every person in regional Australia. It will not go far in terms of providing the urgent infrastructure needed to diversify regional economies,” he said.

Senator Cherry proposed a four point plan to rekindle growth in the tourism-reliant regions of Cairns, Mackay and the Gold Coast:

• Extending the ticket guarantee to Ansett administrators to expand flights into the three regions, and also guaranteeing a share of Government business to improve cashflow;

• Facilitating the expansion of Virgin Blue flights and an urgent overhaul of predatory pricing laws to ensure that Virgin and Ansett can compete fairly with Qantas;

• Funding a national tourism promotion package to promote domestic tourism;

• Trebling funding to the three affected Area Consultative Committees to support new business ventures designed to diversify the local economies.

For further information: Senator John Cherry 0408 066 105 or Pam Hose 0408 752 750