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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2000 Week 5 Hansard (10 May) . . Page.. 1385..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

where rural people of New South Wales can come and access the basic services that are not available in their own towns and, as a function of that, get used to the idea that they can also enjoy the delights of Canberra in terms of entertainment and the recreation facilities that we offer.

Still, as I said at the outset, I remain mystified as to why this particular topic was brought up as an MPI on this day when things are apparently progressing, and why it was delivered by Mr Hird in such an aggressive and challenging fashion. At the same time, we will be hearing from that side of the house that we are aggressive, confrontationalist or combative in this place when a speech like that opens a debate.

MS CARNELL (Chief Minister) (3.59): I am happy to speak, Mr Deputy Speaker. The reason why Mr Hird raised this matter of public importance today is because it is a matter of public importance, quite simply. Regularly, matters of public importance are put on the notice paper in order to have a political go or whatever, but the reason for them is to discuss issues that really matter to the community in Canberra. That is certainly the case with regard to Impulse Airlines.

I think members would have seen the launch of Impulse Airlines here on Sunday, at least in the media. I am sure that everybody who saw any of it would have been extremely impressed, as I was. I think we also saw the next stage of the benefits to Canberra and to Australia of the Impulse expansion, and that was the quite significantly cheaper air fares that were announced that day. I suppose if you are looking for real public benefit, the fact is that Ansett and Qantas, the very next day, matched those fares out of Canberra. A reduction of some $50 to $119 one way between Canberra and Sydney was the announcement that Impulse made, and the very next day Qantas and Ansett felt a need to match that fare. That must be, from a community and consumer perspective, a huge benefit of the arrangement that has already happened.

Mr Deputy Speaker, there are other issues that are important with regard to the Impulse Airlines deal. One of the reasons why I thought it would be useful to talk about this deal today is that it provides an opportunity for this Assembly to work as a whole, to get behind this arrangement and to support it as well as we can. I hope that members, when they are flying, particularly privately, take advantage of Impulse Airlines. Impulse have taken a significant risk in coming to Canberra. Mr Quinlan commented that this was a risky deal for the ACT. I would have to say it is certainly a very large challenge for Impulse Airlines as well. It was a challenge that they believed was worth taking up and, from an ACT government perspective, it was a risk that we believed was worth taking.

Mr Quinlan indicated that he was thought this was a highly speculative deal. I would not go nearly that far. It is certainly a very difficult and very highly competitive industry, but Impulse Airlines have shown over the years a real capacity to operate in this industry, particularly in the regional areas. They are about to take a large step into the major trunk routes between Brisbane and Sydney and Melbourne, and next year will be providing jets into Canberra. I think it is great to see a local Australian business really taking on the very big operators, and I am really pleased that the ACT government has been able to get behind them.

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