​Media Release

Flying start for new regional airport

23 November 2015

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, has today welcomed the first international cargo flight from a regional Queensland airport as a strong signal for local farmers looking to export to Asian markets. 

"At this stage it's a one-off as my department is working with airport owners, Wellcamp, as well as border agencies to help progress an application for permanent international status," Minister Joyce said. 

"However cargo transports like today's Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong could significantly improve times to market and drive returns back through the farmgate of our nation's farmers. 

"The Australian Government has provided in-principle support in the national interest and eagerly await Wellcamp's proposals to develop the necessary infrastructure to safely move agricultural cargo and manage exotic pest and disease risks. 

"Today's flight included a range of horticultural products, such as mangoes, lettuce and pecans, as well as chilled beef. 

"Horticultural products, in particular, are high value exports with a short shelf life—the sooner they get to their destination markets the better—for both customers and farmers. 

"We recognise investment in supply chain infrastructure underpins the profitability of our $57 billion agricultural industries. 

"Through the white papers on Agricultural Competitiveness and Developing Northern Australia, we are expanding the CSIRO's TRAnsport Network Strategic Investment Tool to ensure future decisions on transport deliver maximum benefits as well as investing $100 million in improving key northern Australia cattle roads. 

"Farm commodities exports rose six per cent to $43.5 billion this year and this government is committed to maximising opportunities for producers to export their quality products to premium markets at premium prices. 

"I look forward to working with Wellcamp and my government colleagues to help open up this new exporting route for our farmers."