Will we ever reach the giddy limit of spin, cover up, deceit, faery tales, obfuscation and dissolute, disinterested politicians mouthing platitudes? Serious question. Aviation is the world in microcosm; all there, every facet of life. It is a small world and easily studied, unlike some of the ‘big ticket’ items which haunt this small planet, it is a manageable size study; but IMO, it reflects many of the woes which haunt mankind. It also provides a perfect viewing platform of the ‘political’ machinery running the country. Aye, ‘tis a ramble, one that has been working it’s weary way to the surface and; despite my best efforts to put it aside, has reached the point where I must pay it some mind. In short: what a ducking ministerial mess- we want a refund.
Pel-Air is about to resurface; corpses, they say, always rise, eventually and shite definitely floats. Lets take a long, hard realistic look at this tale of ministerial woe and ‘departmental’ intransience which the ditching of patient transfer jet off Norfolk island, seven long years ago has become. Put the ‘operational’ mess to one side for a moment; lets look at the ministerial/ departmental side of the debacle.
We allow government an extraordinary sum of tax payer money to provide the travelling public a world class aviation accident investigation service, to the aviation industry, so that we might (a) understand ‘why’ a crash occurred and; (b) so that the lessons may be learned and thus, prevent, as far as possible, a repeat performance. The Australian Air Transport Safety Board (ATSB) is requested and required, by government mandate to fulfil these tasks. The agency was set in place with good intentions, a plentiful supply of resources and, in the beginning did a stellar job: world best as a matter of fact. Slowly, but with certainty, this ‘ethos’ and standard diminished. Why this is so, is a question that government, in the form of ‘the minister’ needs to answer. The Senate has done it’s absolute best to provoke a meaningful response. The industry began that quest before the Senate became involved. The net result? Well that is an easy question to answer. Despite a massive body of evidence, proving, beyond any reasonable doubt that ATSB is simply a lip service to maintain the impression that Australia actually has a functioning safety over-sight system. The ministers (all of ‘em) who have been responsible for allowing this disgraceful decline to continue need to be tarred, feathered and run out of Dodge – on a rail. The present incumbent will, like his predecessors, fail, dismally, to emphatically tackle the problem, head on. Bit like weeds in the garden; let ‘em get established and it’s not just a short clean up once a fortnight – it becomes a huge task. The longer the problem is allowed to grow, the harder it is to shift. We pay an extraordinary amount of money to ministers; those who are requested, required and bound, by law, to look after the best interests of the Australian people. Do we get value for that money? Are the problem areas fixed? Is there any hope of a future fix?
We allow government an extraordinary sum of tax payer money to provide a world class aviation administrative and regulatory service, to the aviation industry, so that we might (a) regulate and manage aviation business and; (b) as far as possible, prevent any systematic lowering of standards; (c) to ensure that the system keeps pace with industry developments. This department, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is, in reality little more than an administrative service and an audit department; with delusions of grandeur. It is estimated that some AUD$ 300,000,000 have been ‘invested’ in a thing called ‘Regulatory Reform’; the time this ‘reform’ has taken is about 30 years. The benefit to the Australian public and the aviation industry has been strictly negative, in the extreme. This out of control juggernaut is beyond the reach of the law; has been built into an untouchable edifice – which even feels it can, with impunity, take the Mickey out of contractual obligations to the ICAO. It is an organisation which tells ministers, Senators and the industry to go away while it continues to ignore protest after protest; report after report, recommendation after recommendation; inquiry after inquiry. The spent amount alone on ‘inquiry’ into the failings of this empire would significantly reduce the national debt. Nothing seems to affect this mouldering pile of incompetence; it just grows larger, costs more every year and achieves absolutely nothing of practical or intrinsic value for the country or industry.
Industry pays an impressive amount to Air Services Australia (ASA) to provide, in the main, air traffic control. From a business perspective, this is a monopoly that Fortune 500 companies would kill for – a government sanctioned licence to print money. You would be forgiven for thinking that ASA was rolling in it; and, contributing, significantly, to the government coffers. You would be dead wrong – they are broke. IMO, if the public ever got wind of the tales of corruption and greed which emanate from this monumentally buggered up department, there would be hell to pay. If the general population were ever made aware of how badly this inefficient, costly is poorly managed and the sums paid out for this to continue there would be just a little more than a few questions ‘in the house’. Of the three ‘government’ agencies; this one has the greatest potential to kill. Were it not for the skill and dedication of the ATCO’s running the ‘business’ end; the management of this top heavy organization would create havoc in the air – they most certainly have on the ground, mostly in the nations bank account.
These departments all fall under the minister’s portfolio; they are, one and all, screaming basket cases. The minister will be failing his oath of office to allow serious safety and fiscal matters to continue unabated. There are seven deadly sins; each of the departments under the minister’s control is infected with these. A Lust for influence; Gluttony an insatiable appetite for power; Greed for more and more money to pay the inflated salaries; Sloth an endemic, transmittable disease which affects all; Wrath transmogrified to vengeance inflicted on any who dare speak out; Envy translated into denigration of industry skills and recommendations; and, they are ‘Proud’ of this; they brag about this, they even get the minister to support the fantasy. That’s seven – ain’t it?
Minister – we have paid top dollar for these goods and services, they have not been delivered. Now, either deliver the service or refund the countless millions they have cost us.
Toot – on deaf ears – toot.