The Nationals WA have welcomed the announcement of Federal funding to underpin regional flight schedules but say more will need to be done to ensure communities have adequate access to essential air services during COVID-19 restrictions.
Leader Mia Davies said while the $165 million bailout for Qantas and Virgin announced by Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack restored a minimal schedule, there were still significant gaps in service for many regional towns and cities.
“Two flights per week between Perth and important centres such as Karratha, Broome, Newman, Kalgoorlie and Port Hedland still presents major issues for key parts of the State,” Ms Davies said.
“Those needing access to ongoing specialist medical services in Perth such as cancer treatments or child birth are going to have a tough time synchronising transport with their healthcare appointments or will be forced to find and fund additional days of accommodation in the metropolitan area because they can’t get home.
“The State Government must act with some urgency to ensure biomedical transfers can still take place and regional patients can get life-saving treatments they need, such as chemotherapy.
“COVID-19 is having an impact on all of WA but it is not acceptable for people in the Pilbara, Goldfields and Kimberley to be stranded in life threatening situations.”
Ms Davies asked what steps the State Government would take to ensure patients and other essential workers were not impacted by the glaring gaps in regional flight schedules in Parliament this week.
The Nationals WA transport spokesperson Vince Catania said despite the Federal Government assistance,
Paraburdoo and Tom Price were still without flights.
“The Pilbara is the powerhouse of our economy and needs the WA resource sector and associated communities and small businesses to continue to thrive to drive the post-COVID-19 rebuild,” he said.
“With key centres in the region not having adequate flight schedules the State Government needs to act immediately to ensure the economic recovery of the State and these regions aren’t jeopardised in any way by limited transport and access.
“There are FIFO workers on charter flights but there are plenty of small business staff and contractors who also need access to mine sites but are now being denied that opportunity to continue essential duties at a crucial time for WA – and the country.”