The tale of the Guinea pigs three.

So, we begin the battle:-

A cautionary tale preceded by a necessary ramble. One to be kept as short as possible to succinctly inform those who read the Aunty Pru forum as exactly and concisely as is possible, why this thread is now in existence. So, if you are sitting comfortably, I shall begin.
I have mentioned on the Senate thread that PAIN have undertaken a project related to resolving the unilateral embuggerance and the ever present threat thereof. As the New year rolls into ‘open for business’ the ground work completed last year is prepared; and, as Holmes would say ‘the game is afoot’.
Clearly enunciated and defined, the good Rev Forsyth provided some 30 odd recommendations to a government ordered inquiry. The thrust of this report, known as the ASSR, stated unequivocally, that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has lost the trust, respect and faith of the aviation industry. It was made perfectly clear that restoration of these elements was and, remains a critical, unaddressed, matter of great concern.
There have been, in a minor key, some small (some would say minimal) ‘changes’ made; for wont of better. There is a new Industry Complaints Commissioner (ICC) a seemingly honest toiler, who is ruthlessly constrained by ‘time frames’. Any complaint more than 365 days old, to the minute, is automatically and unceremoniously binned; end of. The ICC will offer options such as ‘talking’ to CASA management at top level; or, alternatively the CASA board; even suggesting contacting the Ombudsman - FCOL; as if anyone has the time or energy to waste on that pilgrimage of false hope to a dead end street.   
Well, the GP 3 have made their request to the ICC who is, now happily unencumbered by the dreaded, infamous, now disbanded Ethics and Conduct Committee. This ‘cute’ little group sat in judgement of ‘all’ the past CASA actions which created fear, anxiety or; dare I say it, ‘facts and circumstances’ which supported the CASA case in any and all actions taken against industry, for whatever reason. The E&CC happily supported some truly disgraceful acts of sheer bastardry. I will, without fear,  go so far as to say that arguably, some of those actions were illegal; certainly perjury featured. I say this with the certainty that CASA would not be prepared to have that statement tested in court. Should they wish to do so – well, I’m not too hard to find; but I digress.
So; what can be done? This was the only question asked of the PAIN network. It was also the sole topic of an ‘epic’ BRB meeting; no dissention that something must be ‘done’ – but what and what cost? Enter the GP3.
Volunteers all, to a man. Their cases and their complaints have been extensively reviewed, questioned and ‘torn apart’ by some very ‘savvy’, balanced, experienced, non CASA minds. The arguments are deemed to be ‘sound’.
As followers of this tale will be aware, the ICC was approached in an attempt to have the matters dealt with through what is now, although restricted by time, due process. It must be said that the ICC acted with some agility and adroitly ‘rolled off the top’; screened by the artificially imposed ‘time’  constraints.  I will, for a nonce, ramble here a little way off the beaten track; by way of providing context.  It was the then DAS, John McCormick who sanctioned the total embuggerance of these three chaps.  He was also ‘involved’ with the then ICC; the odds of any complaint getting past the pillow talk (so to speak) were, not only astronomical, but to even acknowledge a ‘mistake’ in any form was political suicide; and not just for McCormick. There was much, much more at stake – enough said; for today at least. The next incumbent of the DAS seat was a strange selection indeed – however, the ASSR had been presented, the Senate inquiry recommendations had been presented; McCormick resigned (a good riddance) and, with the usual deft management of matters aeronautical, Skidmore was duly slotted into the ‘hot-seat’.
WOFTAM; is, truly, the only way to describe the short, inglorious reign of Skidmore. He was appointed with only one agenda – relax the Senators. Gee whizz, they came so close to falling for it. There is one item which, I (not only) MO, defines the short reign of ‘Skidmore the Inutile’; ‘tis simple enough to understand.  One of our GP 3 made an appeal to the DAS – a honest effort – not seeking compensation or any other esoteric goal – just a simple adjustment of onerous, unfair, unreasonable, one off terms and conditions imposed on the GP’s ability to make a living in a life long job i.e. flying aircraft. It would have cost nothing, just a simple adjustment and no more said. So, what happened you ask? Prosecution that’s what. Very shortly after an appeal being made, for no more than every pilot in Australia is entitled to – the GP found himself in court. Being prosecuted on criminal charges; under ‘strict liability’.  Two counts, each with severe penalties which would cast a death knell over all and any hopes of returning to a flawless professional career, spanning four decades. In the end CASA abandoned one case and got no conviction on the second; not that it mattered; the damage was done. The intense, continued ‘whispering’ campaign reached new heights as did the implied threat to operators who may, just, have a need for ‘experience’ and ‘know-how’.
And so, boys and girls; our stage is set. The GP 3 are going through the motions; ICC – hand off; next stop the DAS. Should that fail, then the CASA Board of Directors (BoD) is the final stop for the GP 3 bus. But there is a purpose to this process; so bear with us while we slowly, but inexorably, run the course through the wild and dangerous pathways of Sleepy Hollow. The GP 3 run the course at some serious personal risk, make no mistake about that. One can only hope that the CDPP is as meticulous in analysing the ‘facts and circumstances’ as PAIN is.
There will, in due course, be much more to follow. The deadline of Feb 06, 2017 is a very auspicious date. The quality of mercy has been strained to breaking point.
I expect you’re all very sleepy by now; but a proper story must have a beginning, middle and ending. The rest of the tale will be short, to the point and; regrettably brutal.  Aye; as P2 is wont to intone: MTF, is a very safe bet indeed.


"I expect you’re all very sleepy by now"

Not me!! More please. The Gobbledock is running on adrenaline at the moment. I've been tuning the houseboat engines, polishing the deck, even repaired some stitching in the Captains chair. The boat has sat in dry dock for a few months now and she is just screaming to be taken out for a run up and down the river. I can smell the scent of passengers in the air. Please Kharon can we take her out for a spin now? Please please please!

Patience, good Gobbledock; patience, just for a short while now.  This has been a long, slow, heartbreaking process and, there is no guarantee of success. However, there will be a need very shortly for the Houseboat and crew to be ready. Patience, whilst a virtue has moved aside while complete justification for embuggerance is explained. Steam and adrenaline on standby; but to act in haste etc.  These are tricky, clever, well prepared, dangerous animals we must deal with; look at what 'they' have beaten thus far.  Toot toot.

Short, sweet and predictable.

The DAS has courteously, in a short, timely letter responded to the GP3 request for an informal ‘chat’.  For those who wrote the almost letter perfect ‘predictive’ responses, the response was sweet; Choc Frogs all around. There were two which were so close to the actual wording that anything less than a Tim Tam award would be a travesty; well done.

The acting DAS has taken refuge behind the AAT rulings and flat denial; quite rightly mentioning that those decisions have been handed down and CASA is well satisfied with those decisions. The point being completely ‘missed’ is that the complaints which need examination are related directly to the actions of CASA field officers and management decisions made before the AAT hearings; as in the quality of ‘facts and circumstances’ produced as evidence; and, importantly, actions taken subsequent to the hearings. These are the matters which must be tested, not the AAT decisions made on the CASA statements. No matter, the DAS has suggested that the CASA Board is the next stop for the GP3 bus. So be it.

The CASA escape route, defence strategy and party line has been clearly and neatly set out by the DAS for us; those wee holes will be narrowed and the Board contacted.  It is a little early yet to determine a pattern; but, the competition entries to draft the Board response will now be assessed against a tighter rule set. There is after all a gold star and a key to the Tim Tam box at stake.

That’s it, for today at least.

Toot toot.

Unconscionable behaviour, backed up by their senior manager.

What a bunch of slimy grubs they are.

They may be completely incompetent with anything to do with Safety, aviation or regulation but nobody can say they're not expert at slithering around ethics, probity, truth or the law.

Scum the lot of them.

Sir Thorny;

They may be completely incompetent with anything to do with Safety, aviation or regulation but nobody can say they're not expert at slithering around ethics, probity, truth or the law.

I couldn't agree more. If they spent just a fraction of the time that they spent chasing, bullying, and stitching up good honest people and put that into proper safety oversight, robust systems, quality assurance and proper regulations we would have a fantastic aviation industry in Australia, not the busted shell and steaming pile of shit that we have.

The houseboat docks in Canberra.

Canberra, a strange mixture of fantasy, real law, political deals, endless tales covering the entire gamut of great acts, from serving a nation well, through to the petty, self serving mean little acts which benefit only a very few.  

You don’t need to spend a lot of time with the ‘real deal’ to work out that there is a vast gulf between those who not only care for their constituents and the country, but for those of us who live, work and exist here. One tends to forget that the ‘genuine’ breed exist, do what they may, as well as they can given the constraints of time and opportunity. But they do exist. Then there are politicians like Chester.

We see this shine through in Estimates – where the politics of party are put aside in a joint search, by good folk, for answers from totally unaccountable departments of the administration system; ASA, ATSB and CASA are excellent examples. The calls for accountability and reform have been loud and long for three long decades; the last being a particularly long, difficult, dismal one. The McConvict years, Pel-Air, the Senate inquiry, the ASRR, the Canadian peer review all brought into being by statesmen who hold Australia’s well being and that of it’s peoples in first place.

The Senators intentions have been flaunted, their recommendations ignored and; despite their best efforts, nothing has changed – well, not in any tangible way, certainly not for the better.

For example; the CASA board has proved to be completely ineffective in implementing reform or bringing accountability, for anything, into being. In fact there is now a whole raft of ‘leaked’ excuses being circulated seeking to excuse this dismal performance.

The Minister is, proven beyond any doubt, to be completely inept; which is perhaps excusable to some degree. What is not excusable is the flat refusal to listen to industry and try understand the seriousness of allowing departments in his portfolio, CASA in particular, to remain fully unaccountable to the gods, the parliament, the law or the people. It is a sad fact that the ministerial actions have leaned toward supporting the actions of these departments, rather than questioning them; in an unvarnished attempt at self preservation.

Through three levels of ‘governance’; the Senate, the minister and their now subverted board CASA have managed to remain an unaccountable, untouchable law unto themselves. It is now being mooted that even the tenuous hold on accountability afforded to the ICC is being stonewalled, not only from ‘within’ the organisation, but now by the CASA board itself. Some say communications breakdown - ‘aided and abetted by’ is perhaps a better, more popular descriptive.

In short, despite the best efforts of many; CASA continues unscathed to flaunt the wishes of industry, the Senate, the minister and it’s very own board. This must be brought to a conclusion, it has to end. No public service to Australia is ‘above the law’, immune to government demands for reform, or public pressure for honesty and clarity, able to act contrary to the law of the land, swear false evidence, corrupt constitutional rights and ride roughshod over legitimate complaint and get away with it.

The aberration seems set to continue on its merry way, the minister enjoying the artificial pleasure of watching the acting director paper over the filth spread over the walls, sanding away the blood on the floor and slopping a shiny, new, pleasing coat of paint over the rest. The fact that the foundations of this house of cards are rotten beyond saving is of no concern; it only has to hold together until the sale is complete and the minister moves on. Caveat emptor indeed.

But wait; is that a glimmer of candle light I see shining through a crack in the curtains of the big house on top of the hill? Maybe someone has left a candle burning for our three weary Guinea pigs to find their way home after a long, arduous, dangerous journey. Well; the houseboat just dropped them off at the big house jetty, delivered them safe; they must now only toil up the steep hill, and knock on the door to discover whether ‘twas a glimmer of hope or a mirage of despair.

“What say you GD?”  “Shall we wait here a while and watch their progress, we are in no hurry, ‘tis a pleasant evening and it won’t take ‘em long to get up the hill to that door; if there is no response, we can carry them back home with us”. “We shall see, tell you what, put the kettle on, make us a cuppa – and we’ll raid the Tim Tam tin.

Toot – toot.

Houseboat log.

It was worth the wait; the GP3 toddled back down the hill by candle light and found the houseboat waiting. GD fired up the main engines and, off we went. Once clear of the swamp, we joined the guests in the visitors cabin, eager to hear the news (the houseboat knows its way home). Our lady passenger was all smiles. Being treated for once to some courtesy, respect and a fair hearing had been a tonic; nothing but praise for the various staff members and the persons they serve. Most refreshing.

One thing emerged very clearly from three separate meetings – there is a general parliamentary knowledge of and awareness to the appalling state of the aviation ‘safety’ agencies. Our lady passenger reckons she was given more information during the meetings than she dispensed.  Fully expecting disbelief and prepared to correct the errors; surprise! – support, understanding and a genuine willingness to help.  I won’t bore you with repetition; suffice to say ‘tuthers all reported similar responses.

It seems that not only the ‘independents’ are full bottle on the aviation mess; others are aware of the horrendous costs, the gross inefficiency and, more importantly, the dubious practices employed to keep the rice bowls full.  

Of course, talk is a cheap commodity.  But I do get the impression that slowly, quietly, things may change – for the better, with or without ministerial blessing and the approval of the ‘iron wrong’. Who can tell? But, even if only the changes affect the huge amounts of wasted industry and public funds, maybe even divert or empty some of the tucked away ‘slush’ funds, then it will be a good result.  

Who knows eh? All we can do now is wait and see. But it was a bloody good effort, worth the journey and certain political figures have won life long support. Good work all around I’d say. Well done. 

Toot toot.

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