Federal Member for Mallee, Anne Webster, welcomes the announcement of Federal Government funding to guarantee critical regional domestic flight network, including the Mildura to Melbourne route.
“This is announcement today is a great result for local patients in need of treatment in Melbourne for health issues including cancer or cardiology needs.
“The issue of access to care is one of equity for residents across Mallee. I have been working on this daily since flights were reduced, talking with the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, and working to ensure equity for regional patients as they access essential care in Melbourne.
“I made it clear to the Deputy Prime Minister that access to healthcare for these patients was vital, and that we needed to work quickly to find a solution to this issue.
“I was contacted by Sunraysia Cancer Resources group a few weeks ago, highlighting the need of these flights, as patients with life threatening conditions such as brain tumours, have had to postpone radiotherapy treatment because of the cancellation of services by regional airlines.”
Sunraysia Cancer Resources Business Manager Diana Newman said, “Working with patients through this difficult time has been extremely hard, trying to ensure people in need get the care they require. The announcement of these flights returning is a great relief to many patients.
“It is a privilege to be able to help people in their time of need, people who have been incredibly stressed but have remained gracious I want to thank Anne Webster for the hard work that has gone on behind the scenes to get these flights returned”.
Today’s announcement will see Qantas flights return to Mildura from Tuesday the 21st April for 2 return flights a week, allowing regular flights, not just for these patients, but for local residents currently stranded overseas to return home.
“I have been working closely with locals and their families who have found themselves stranded in places such as India, Ecuador and Guatemala.
“This investment will also help Australians returning from overseas, including those from Mallee, who after 14 days of mandatory quarantine, can complete their journey home safely.” Dr Webster said.
Qantas and Virgin Australia Groups will operate a minimum domestic network servicing the most critical metropolitan and regional routes in Australia thanks to a significant investment from the Federal Government of up to an initial $165 million.
Underwriting the cost of the network, which includes all state and territory capital cities and major regional centres such as Albury, Alice Springs, Coffs Harbour, Dubbo, Kalgoorlie, Mildura, Port Lincoln, Rockhampton, Tamworth, Townsville and Wagga Wagga, comes in addition to the more than $1 billion of Federal Government support for Australia’s aviation industry in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said sustaining Australia’s aviation industry is critical to protecting livelihoods and saving lives and that’s why the Government has acted again today to provide further support.
“As Australians are asked to stay home unless absolutely necessary, we are ensuring secure and affordable access for passengers who need to travel, including our essential workers such as frontline medical personnel and defence personnel, as well as supporting the movement of essential freight such as critical medicine and personal protective equipment,” Mr McCormack said.
“We know that a strong domestic aviation network is critical to Australia’s success and today’s announcement demonstrates our commitment, yet again, to maintaining connectivity during this pandemic.
This announcement complements the actions the Federal Liberal and Nationals Government has already taken to underwrite international flights to help Australians get home, as well as flights to our regional and remote communities through the $198 million Regional Airlines Network Support program announced on 28 March and the $715 million package announced on 18 March.
These arrangements will last for an initial eight weeks with a review mechanism in place, where the Government will continue to monitor the market and determine if further action is required.
We continue to support every Australian to get to the other side of this pandemic with more than $320 billion of investment, including our $130 billion JobKeeper Payment to support workers and businesses.