It was one of the strangest starts to a full dress BRB ever. Grim and (for that crew) strangely quiet. My fault thinks I, for the e-mail loops questionnaire had been long and required some thought. But, the IOS wanted to get a very clear picture before getting down to the big questions. Turned out the questions had framed just how serious the situation for industry has become and that concern was reflected through the PAIN associates responses.
For example:- Opinion of the Senate Committee was sought in relation to the ‘agencies’ response to the inquiries and recommendations made, and the subsequent lack of positive results . I have, for brevity, paraphrased the sample answers below and edited comment.
a) Dismissed as being impotent by agency heads. (b) Constrained by time, frustrated by protocol, undermined by DoIT; ignored by the Minister. © Unable to ‘enforce’ their recommendations.
This evidenced and supported simply by the total lack of tangible or measureable change in any of the agencies. There was a small negative, a minority ; but the evidence offered in support was measured, credible and discussed.
d) The Senators have used the ‘aviation situation’ as a grandstand, taken what credit was available and waltzed off to the next, vote winning gig without a backward glance. Believing the job was done.
In short, it has been almost six years since the Pel-Air ditching off Norfolk Island; there has been no reform of the regulation, neither CASA or the ATSB has changed in any degree; in fact the entrenched attitudes have hardened, many of those who played major roles for the agencies have been promoted or, remain employed. This at best, reflects a job not finished, recommendations ignored, reviews by Forsyth and TSBC nugatory.
Quote:“No one, least of all those who have had the Senate wet lettuce leaf waved at them, from a distance, is in the slightest concerned”. “Business as usual”.
It is fair to say that opinion of the ASA, ATSB and CASA boards reflects the same outcome. This cavalier attitude to Senate committee opinion, evidence, rhetoric and opinion is clearly seen, easily measured by the lack of any positive change; if you discount the fancy window dressing. Of which there is much; Safe-Skies being the prime example.
There were some questions which the BRB would like answered by the SC; sample below.
Why is Fawcett not deeply involved, active and; in the Miniscules face, 24/7?
Why is no one challenging the Ministers non response and lack of perceivable change?
Why is the SC still tolerating Dolan, his empire, air safety reports and minions?
Why is the SC able to live with and accept the ‘Skidmore’ master plan for ‘reform’ in 15 years time? When 15 months is far too long for many.
Why is the SC accepting the Houstoblame get out of jail cards – without question?
It is not a good look; is it? Not to those who must work and survive despite the system.
This all led naturally to the reasons why; interesting (long loud) discussion and remarkable, in that the two ‘sides’ eventually combined to provide a unanimous result. The debate focused on Merdek/Minister and the Navigation Act; and stalemated. Neither side prepared to concede. I should mention here that the e-mail response was equally divided and just as strongly supported (and worded). The conclusion: that while both are in place, there is little chance of any serious recommendation, reform or change ever happening.
Next question what’s to be done?
Three answers were eventually drafted for consideration:-
The heads of the three departments must be changed and the selection criteria and appointment must taken out of the remit of the DoIT. Board selection within strict guidelines, approved by a Senate committee and Minister. The sad history of meaningful reform is littered with evidence of incompetence, bias, arrogance, contempt, external manipulation and influence.
Industry generates the income to pay people for work done; excellence is rewarded, incompetence results in demotion or, termination. If industry is to support the impost of ‘Boards’ then those boards must clearly define the pathway and vision for their ‘agency’ in plain English; stating the target and the plan for achieving their stated goals. Then be held responsible for performance, in Senate committee, in public. Take the money – take the blame, most people in responsible positions are ‘accountable’ to the ‘paymaster’ We pay, in spades; for measurable incompetence. Does that make any sense? – not a whit.
Last, but probably most important is the need to cure the Act. It is clear that the DoIT have no intention of changing what is a flawed document; it suits their purpose too well. Clearly neither ASA, ATSB or CASA have any thought of changing the ACT, not while the ‘established’ spinners and weavers have total control. A process of simple elimination defines where and with whom the built in, carefully guarded ‘control’ lays.
It was unanimous that PAIN submit a proposal, to the independent Senators, for a private members bill to redraft the Navigation Act (s) into one document. If no one else will act responsibly and change the Act, then perhaps the independent and cross bench Senators can as a matter of conscience, be persuaded to force the desperately needed changes through which will be of benefit the industry and the nation. Matter of conscience really.
That’s it for today children; there was a lot more; but, most of you reading will be well aware of those issues, so I won’t keep banging on. But that FWIW is the tale of how the proposal for private members bill came into being and achieved unanimous support.
GD asks – What about Merdek and the three Stooges? – (A) Do the words ‘landslide’ and no contest mean anything to you; no brainer, we had a whip around for tickets – got enough for first class, one way….