kharon Wrote: The invisible minister has little worthwhile to say – while ducking behind the cover provided by bureaucratic double talk and tested time wasting strategy. But Dick Smith does and once again tries to lead an ailing industry toward political recognition, administrative sanity and sustainable development.
Dick Smith – doing what he does best and asking for nothing but your support for the efforts made on your behalf.
The Wagga Oration – HERE –
Good onya Dick and Thank you.
Dick Smith Wagga Aviation Oration. – AP Forum version.
Extracts from the Dick Smith Wagga Oration…
Pages 3 to 7:
The destruction of the General Aviation and flight training industry in Australia
26 April 2018
Historically, there has never been such disillusionment with our democratic process.
There is low trust in our political parties – what is going on?
I come from a business background, however, over the last 30 years or so I have
had experience with the Canberra “machine”. This gives me an insight into how
that system works, or perhaps more accurately, often doesn’t work.
I was appointed to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) board in 1988 and was
also Chairman of the Centenary of Federation Council. My focus today is on
the effect the Canberra ‘machine’ has had on the General Aviation industry in
By General Aviation, I mean aviation other than the major airlines and defence.
That is: Charter, Training, Private and Business, Maintenance, Aerial Ag, Aerial
Ambulance, and the Rescue industries.
Parts of the general aviation industry are close to collapse, (see the charts on
pages 12 and 13), and it has got this way due to some really poor decisions by
those in charge.
We all laughed watching “Yes, Minister”, that wonderful, insightful BBC series
about politics and the Westminster System, however, there is a telling message
here on why our democratic system appears to be failing. Remember the
hospital without any patients segment with the famous exchange between the
Minister and Mrs Rogers, the Hospital Superintendent?
Minister: “But isn’t it appalling that it is not being used?”
Mrs Rogers: “Oh no, it’s a very good thing in some ways.
It prolongs its life – cuts down running costs.”
Could that be General Aviation in Australia today? Could the bureaucrats have
said, “Minister, small planes crash. If we don’t have small planes it will be safer.”
On the 3 November 1989 (nearly 30 years ago) at an Australian Made campaign
function, the then Prime Minister Bob Hawke said to me, “Dick, I have decided to
appoint you Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority.” I replied, “No way, Prime
Minister. We are not going to have an industry in five years the way we are
going.” He said, “What are you talking about?”
With the Prime Minister and Kay Cottee at the Australian Made Campaign, November 1989 – where the Prime Minister asked if I would be Chairman of the CAA.
I explained that with the introduction of “user pays”, the sell-off of airports and
the increased regulatory costs to the industry, there were serious problems. I
said, “The airlines will be ok. With tens of millions of passengers they can add
extra costs to the air ticket and it is hardly noticeable, but general aviation,
especially in the bush, will be destroyed.”
The Prime Minister said, “What can we do?” I said, “We have to make it clear
that the money spent on aviation safety is always limited by what our society
can afford. “…we have to remove every unnecessary cost – only a viable industry
can be a safe industry,” I told the PM. “Otherwise, how could it afford the cost of
implementing the best safety measures?”
He said, “You take on the job and I will support you,” and he did. What an
extraordinary leader and Prime Minister.
The do-gooders would have had Bob Hawke sacked
We now know that our Prime Minister was in a relationship with a journalist in
her thirties, which was kept secret by the press. Imagine if the newspapers at
the time had put his private life on the front page day after day, after day. The
do-gooders would have had Bob Hawke sacked. We would have lost one of
our best Prime Ministers and our country would be worse off. There is a lesson
I finished my term as chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority in February 1992,
having started the reform process. I had sought advice, surrounded myself with
capable people and received strong support from industry icons such as Don
Kendall AM and Max Hazelton OBE.
The front page of The Australian on February 18, 1992 stated, “Good, cheap
safety touches down as Dick Smith takes off.”
The copy read:
“Affordable safety may have been a controversial concept but by admitting
that safety is limited by what those who pay for it can afford, the CAA and the
industry has been forced to examine every regulation to see which gives the
best safety and cost benefit.”
“If we could save a dollar and still maintain the level of safety, we changed to it.”
“Among the changes were more individual responsibility for pilots and
The Australian newspaper, Tuesday February 18, 1992
I didn’t realise at the time that the Canberra bureaucracy did not grasp the
truism of the words “affordable safety.” Many in the bureaucracy were from the
military, where cost was not in their realm of thinking.
The Civil Aviation Act was then changed, introducing the new cargo cult*
regulation. This is the wording:
“ …CASA must regard the safety of air navigation as the most important
Civil Aviation Act (1995 amendment)
Now that sounds like a great motherhood statement. In fact, it is more a
dishonest marketing slogan that would suit a fly-by-night shonky airline – or
one of our major banks!! It is a lie because there are many times where the
most important consideration is cost. This is just common sense.
For example, airline aircraft could be fitted with ejection capsules for each seat,
which could be activated at the time of a hijack. Safety would be improved
but the cost of air tickets would be prohibitive. Or regulators could mandate
a minimum of four engines for over ocean travel. Once again, safety would be
improved in a small way but ticket prices would be unaffordable for many.
*cargo cult – a belief of primitive people that if they build an aerodrome and worship correctly, “cargo” will be
delivered from the skies at no cost.
The front page of The Australian on February 18, 1992 stated,
“Good, cheap safety touches down as Dick Smith takes off.”
Closer to home, the higher CASA regulatory costs have resulted in small towns
like Gunnedah no longer having an air service. This forces Australian travellers
onto far less safe roads.
To this day the bureaucrats have fought to ensure that this wording remains and
this has been the driving force behind the destruction of our once viable general
aviation and flying training industry.
Pages 14 to 17:
Good news with Minister Barnaby Joyce
Former Deputy Prime Minister
In December 2017 there was some good news.
Barnaby Joyce – clearly a Bob Hawke in many ways – was appointed the Minister. What a difference.
I had a breakfast meeting with Mr Joyce and pointed out that the Civil Aviation
Act didn’t mention that cost had to be considered. He instantly said, “That is
ridiculous, you always have to look at cost.”
It was a fantastic breakthrough. He asked me, “Dick, if you were a dictator what
would you do to get the industry going again – especially aviation in the bush.”
I said, “The first thing I would do is fix the Act so costs can be considered, and I
believe we can get the Shadow Minister, Anthony Albanese, to agree with this.”
Mr Joyce told me to go ahead and have a go so I used an industry expert to
come up with the new, effective wording, which says:
“CASA must seek to achieve the highest level of safety in air
navigation that is consistent with:
(a) Maintaining an efficient and sustainable Australian aviation
industry, including a viable general aviation and training sector
(b) The need for more people to benefit from civil aviation.”
It was just common sense. Who could possibly be against such wording? Legislation that allows cost to be considered is not a unique idea.
Let’s look at the equivalent wording in the British Civil Aviation Act. It says:
“…provide air transport services which satisfy… public demand at the lowest
charges consistent with a high standard of safety… and an economic return to
efficient operators… ” British CAA Act (2012)
Yes, totally different to our existing “safety as the most important consideration”
lie. Mr Joyce agreed with the changes and got me to discuss them with the
Shadow Minister. Within days, Mr Albanese sent back a couple of adjustments
and supported the change – fantastic.
That was all to change. Within two weeks, Barnaby Joyce had resigned, clearly
because he did not live in Bob Hawke times!
Change not supported by new minister, Mr McCormack
Deputy Prime Minister
Now let’s move to the present time. I was fortunate to be able to arrange a meeting with the new Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Michael McCormack. When I asked him if he would support the change of the Act, he was undecided and said,
“I would like more information. I think there should be more discussion and more consultation.”
Now why wouldn’t he have said to me,
“Dick, this is just common sense – of course I will support the change – cost always has to be considered and I have read so much about the destruction of general aviation, particularly in the bush.”
It is very likely that Mr McCormack would have liked to have said that, but with his six years as a politician, I think his “actor” training came in. He knew that any changes to the Act that even hinted that costs should be looked at would be considered by some as reducing safety – and be beaten up accordingly in the media.
However, I really hope he will support the change in the future.
We laughed at the “Yes, Minister” segments, however, let’s think about it.
That “Yes, Minister” show is an example of how our politicians have become
actors not doers. I was shocked each time I was chair of the safety regulator
in Canberra to see how people – once the emotive word “safety” came up –
were not game to apply the common sense that I had experienced in private
enterprise for over 30 years.
You can’t blame individual politicians for this. The vast majority are as honest as
any Australians. It is the system we have evolved to and we have to fix it.
Even though I have concentrated on a story about aviation, this is also the
explanation of why so many are disillusioned with our democratic systems. No
wonder Mr Trump was elected to drain the dishonest swamp.
How can you revitalise General Aviation?
So how can we revitalise General Aviation so we become leaders in the world,
especially in flying training?
• Firstly, we need to change the Act as agreed by Mr Joyce and Mr
Albanese – “stop the lie – change the Act – let aviation thrive!” This
should be our motto.
• Secondly, we have to ensure that CASA concentrates on the regulatory
rewrite to remove every unnecessary cost.
• Thirdly, we should harmonise with the simpler and lower cost FAA
regulations which allow a successful, safe, General Aviation industry.
• Number four, we need to get people with talent and industry experience
in as advisers to the Minister and appointed to the CASA board. For the
last 15 years, the person appointed to advise the Minister on aviation has
never been a person with the skills or the experience, or ever stated any
vision on how to grow aviation.
• Five, we need to second experienced experts from the industry to CASA
for one or two years to get the General Aviation industry thriving again.
• And six. We need to convince governments to treat aviation safety in a
bipartisan way – not the point-scoring that goes on today which clearly
damages our country.
The major parties agree on our alliance with the United States. Why? Because
it is of such national interest. What could be more of a “national interest” than
having a safe and viable aviation industry? We need the major parties to jointly
support aviation reform. The agreement between Mr Joyce and Mr Albanese is
an example of what can be achieved.
Mr McCormack has huge opportunity
Tens of millions of dollars of additional export income
In closing – the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Michael McCormack, has a huge opportunity to support these common sense changes to get aviation, especially aviation in the bush, thriving again.
We could become the world leaders in flight training and recreational aviation
– tens of millions of dollars of additional export income could be earned – promoting massive investment in both infrastructure and services in our country towns and regional centres.
The problems I have mentioned do not affect me personally, I’m fortunate. I can
afford the high costs. It’s others and my country I am concerned about.
Call for action
This is my call to action. I ask you to contact the Minister, your Local Member, the media – everyone – and ask for the “Dick Smith Wagga Proposals” to go ahead. They will be on my website. Sir Henry Parkes gave the Tenterfield Oration in 1889, which was a trigger for our Federation. Well, this is the “Dick Smith Wagga Oration” which I am hoping will trigger the revitalisation of General Aviation in Australia.
Aviation call for action
P2: Second the “on’ya Dick” – and keep it coming mate –