Senator STERLE: I just have an observation. I don’t know the minister. I think he’s probably a decent human being but, unfortunately, ministers get entrapped by CASA. I’m no stranger to the operations of CASA. I have been in many political punch-ups with CASA over the years, to the point where former Senator O’Brien from Tasmania and I instigated a Senate inquiry into the operations and governance of CASA. That was nicely buried away. I think, Chair, it’s probably time to revisit that again.
Mr Morgan: I will make a very brief comment on that. I think that you have absolutely nailed the issue for us. On the discussion of flight training organisation regulation and the independent flight instructors, when we met with CASA to discuss these concerns the director of aviation safety and his deputy were in that meeting and they were joined by the two people who were actually responsible for part 1 41 and 42. I think it is fair to say that they were, frankly, not interested in hearing a critique of their regulation. We had a representative from the United States give a comparison—what happens in the US versus what happens in Australia. That same person, Mike Smith, gave a presentation at Wagga. They switched off. They demonstrated themselves as absolutely unwilling to listen and had a complete desire to avoid any discussion of changing what they had created. It became alarming for us when the minister for transport was recently announced, because his aviation adviser is one of those individuals. So we cannot have a discussion with the minister about changing this part of the regulation. I’m not saying that there is a conflict; I am saying that it becomes a very difficult exercise for us, from an industry perspective, to have an open and free debate on the issues if the persons involved are demonstrating a total unwillingness to be open-minded about it.
Oversight of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority
- Correspondence from Mr Ken Cannane, Executive Director, Aviation Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Business Association dated 27 August 2018 (PDF 573KB https://www.aph.gov.au/~/media/Committee….pdf?la=en )
a) Attachment – Relevant USA Aviation Act requirements (PDF 314KB https://www.aph.gov.au/~/media/Committee….pdf?la=en )
b) Attachment – Civil Aviation Act, section 98 (PDF 247 KB https://www.aph.gov.au/~/media/Committee….pdf?la=en )
- Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Australia, Monday 27 August 2018, Portside Centre, Sydney, Hansard transcript – (PDF 110KB https://www.aph.gov.au/~/media/Committee…docx?la=en )
- Monday 19 November 2018, Parliament House, Canberra, Program – (PDF 95KB https://www.aph.gov.au/~/media/Committee….pdf?la=en )
You have to wonder why the editorial staff of a publication, such as Australian Flying, tolerate reporting which is neither ‘straight’ nor informative. They have, I expect, a minimal market share in a competitive field with a limited audience. The ‘story’ (for wont of better) Hitch is blindly groping around the edges of has only two main elements, to wit, the ongoing battle for reform of both regulator and regulation and those who oppose that reform. It really is that simple. The key pieces on the board are industry; CASA, and the incumbent minister. A game of thrones: of influence and of power exercised.
What Hitch fails to have the hutzpah to address are the base issues; scripting opinion instead of simply reporting the facts – as they stand – having investigated the story thoroughly. The wishy-washy tumble of words presented cannot be taken as a serious attempt at ‘journalism’ although Hitch does try to sell the notion that he is, in fact a real deal ‘Journo’. He ain’t, not by a long shot.
Tomorrow, there is to be a public hearing related to matters aeronautical; yet nary a word of this from Hitch. It is, IMO, a pivotal session of the RRAT committee, revolving around a grass roots matter – medicals for private operations and the CASA created battle between two warring factions for supremacy. That both need their fool heads banged together for falling into the cleverly laid scheme to divide and conquer that element of recreational flying and thus diluting the universal call for reform needs to be amplified. Hitch fails, once again, to present an unbiased, clinical assessment of the situation as it stands.
Then, we read the half baked analysis of the Act and the SOE, which, once again, demonstrates the Hitch version of cart before horse. Clearly, he just ‘don’t get it’. In simple terms the nexus lays with the Seaview accident and the Staunton report. There was a determination made that no matter what, a minister would never, not ever, be put into the same situation again. CASA responded by demanding more autonomy, grabbing both control and money. SAFETY was to be paramount; political safety that is and so began the unbridled reign of the big R regulator. This has become a happy thing for all ministers as they are iron clad and bullet proof from any and all association with matters aeronautical. Guilt free and publically blameless. CASA milk this for every drop and will defend the unlimited power and unaccountability for all that they are worth. Why would anyone willingly dismantle a smoothly running protection system like that to satisfy the calls of a very small minority group? Don’t make any political sense whatsoever.
Yet the need for reform is obvious, the need to free an ailing industry from the chains of prescriptive regulation which cripple and bind innovation and investment must be broken. The need for a system which does not lend itself to fear of criminal conviction – on whim – without trial is blindingly obvious. We are a free, democratic country, with rights enshrined in law; removed by the Civil Aviation Act. Could it be said that it is unconstitutional? YES is the answer; this had been publicly said, with the rider that no one could afford to challenge it.
There is a lot more riding on the call for reform than Hitch has grasped, a cartload more. Yet this latest trite, biased, ill informed load of waffle is published. The good thing is only a few will read it; few of those will see the dire need for a united front for reform; even fewer will give 20 seconds constructive thought to how the industry, not themselves will benefit from a united, clearly enunciated, robust call for reform.
Hitch needs to go back to writing his wee tales of joy flights in the latest Tupperware offering and stay away from serious matters he clearly does not understand. Before someone accuses him of dragging the good name of a once respected publication into the mud of deceit and the stench of bias.
Toot – toot.