FEDERAL Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch will meet with Senator Nick Xenophon in Canberra this week to express his concerns at proposed law changes that threaten the future of vital airline services in Cairns.
Mr Entsch said Senator Xenophon’s proposed amendment to restrict the use of foreign cabin crews in Australia would have a devastating impact on the Far North’s tourism industry.
The move would jeopardise the future of the existing Cairns-Singapore route, with Qantas and Jetstar executives warning the additional costs imposed by the proposed amendments to the Air Navigation and Civil Aviation Bill could make some services unviable and reduce their competitiveness in the marketplace.
Mr Entsch will raise the issue in Federal Parliament today.
“Any service withdrawal by Jetstar or Qantas would have a profound negative effect on Cairns and the region,” he said.
“Tourism is the lifeblood of the region and both airlines have played a critical role in the industry’s survival. The Far North has weathered the worst of the global financial crisis and is finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“But we do not need to endure more setbacks, particular amid efforts to attract more airline services and grow aviation in the region.”
Mr Entsch said not only could the draft legislation put some current routes at risk, but it would also deter airlines from introducing more services in Cairns.
He plans to meet Senator Xenophon in Canberra this week to discuss the plight of the Far North and the impact his proposal would have on the tourism industry.
The amendment would require airlines to pay foreign-based cabin crews the same as Australian staff when flying on domestic routes.
“I will be making sure Senator Xenophon understands how damaging this could be for Leichhardt’s economy,” Mr Entsch said.
“While I appreciate his commitment to protect the working conditions of overseas crews on foreign contracts, it’s also important to protect the jobs of locals and protect economies.
“This amendment would clearly have unintended consequences.”