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11 April, 2022

Local fare scheme's long-term future locked up

Cape York residents can breathe a sigh of relief after the cheap flights scheme was sewn up, with some positive changes.

By Matt Nicholls

THE long-term future of the local fare scheme for Cape residents has been sewn up.

The state government last week announced it was committing to the program for another six years.

In doing so, it also announced some key changes to the scheme, which should benefit all Cape York travellers.

One-way fares will be allowed, while the eligibility criteria has been changed for all communities – except Weipa.

Under the current scheme, you must have lived in the community for three years to be eligible for the reduced flights. That will change to one year from July 1.

However, Weipa residents will still have to meet the three-year criteria.

This was reported incorrectly by the Cairns Postlast week.

Despite the apparent snub, WTA chair Michael Rowland was rapt with the announcement.

“It’s guaranteed for another six years and we get one-way flights, which provide more flexibility,” he said.

“I can understand why Weipa’s eligibility wasn’t moved to one year and that’s because we are a transient town and Weipa already eats up a fair amount of the scheme’s budget.”

Transport Minister Mark Bailey said more than 122,000 trips had been taken on the scheme since the state government reintroduced it in July 2015.

“Reduced flight costs are a lifeline to remote communities and extending the Palaszczuk government’s commitment provided real surety to Far North locals,” Mr Bailey said.

“The scheme is a commitment to remote towns in the Far North to ensure residents remain connected with regional centres, and essential services, when needed.

“By changing the rules around eligibility and introducing one-way flights demonstrates that we have listened to the people.”



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