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“…Further afield, Infrastructure secretary Mike Mrdak’s second term, which finished on July 1, has been extended by just six months, after eight years in the job. Mrdak, now the longest serving secretary of the 18, is an exceptional talent.…ter-worse/

An exceptional talent – indeed. There can be little doubt, Mrdak is bloody good at what he does. Which does not mean to say that what he done has been good for those who have been on the other end of that talent. From Pink Bats to Airports; from Pel-Air to the Mildura debacle, from McConvict to Beaker; every potential avenue to a platform from which Australian’s could come to grips with the waste, excesses and incompetence of aviation safety management has been blocked.

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A succession of ministers have walked away, unscathed, untouched by the shambles, protected by this talent. A series of agency ‘management’ have exited the building without ever being brought to task. ICAO, the FAA, the NTSBC, a Senate inquiry, a fellah who wrote an opinion and some talented individuals who could have got matters aeronautical back to taws have been neutralised; rendered nugatory through the exceptional talent of this man to protect the minister.

“…No other department secretary’s term is up this year but the turnover has been incredibly high in the last decade  — 31 have resigned, retired or been fired…”

Aye, but even he will need six months and a bloody good shredder to cover his tracks. I can’t help but admire the talent – and, I do wish he was playing for us; but the transfer fee is beyond the reach of the aviation lobby groups, and anyway – it would take even Mrdak decade to unscramble the twisted wreckage left in the wake of this prodigious talent.

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“Why, any thing, but to th’ purpose. You were sent for, and there is a kind of confession in your looks which your modesties have not craft enough to color. I know the good king and queen have sent for you.”

Which leads us right back to the problems we face. There are many; from CASA FOI’s running operating companies, through to the truly dreadful ATSB performance. If we step away from the awful regulations for just a moment and take a walk back through recent history there is another, IMO, quite sinister bogey-man lurking in the wings. A genie which must not be allowed out of its bottle.

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Our little research project has, like Topsy, grown. It’s a bit like the tale of Jack and his beanstalk. We wondered – as you do – why CASA had a massive overreaction to what was a simple accident i.e. the ditching off Norfolk Island. Prima facie, the pilot ran out of fuel – end of; you would think. But no, once you start digging about, the skeletons start popping up and you cannot ignore them. The developing time line is fascinating. For example; the FAA were very, very serious about downgrading Australia at the time of the Pel-Air ditching– can you imagine the fall out had had that happened? Then we stumble into the ‘battle for the South Pacific’ with Australia desperately trying to flog off the worlds most disgusting rule set to the island nations against the Kiwi’s sane, simple rule set.

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Lots of money and kudos attached to winning that round. Now, Australia lost that round by a huge margin; however, 300 million and thirty years is a big investment to walk away from; and, to admit that the rule set was a totally useless thing was out of the question. Too much skin in the game to admit total failure; and so the hubris began; an arrogant, isolationist attitude was adopted. Then, in the midst of all this Dom James decides to take his crew for a midnight swim. – Game on. To crown it; young Andy Wilson had the temerity to crash; two grossly inconvenient accidents. To this day ICAO have no record of that accident; such was the cover up. Enough; it always makes me smile quietly when I hear folk decrying the Pel-Air debacle as an aberration which must not be repeated. I say, if you thought the treatment of Norfolk Island ditching was a national disgrace; look deeply into the treatment of Canley Vale fatal. We have; and, it’s a shocker.

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The problem with creating smoke is you need a small fire to generate the stuff; the problem with lying is that one must lead to another; the problem with believing your own lies becomes one for the trick cyclists to solve – provided you are willing to attend the session. Much help needed in Sleepy Hollow perhaps the grown ups from FAA and ICAO will lend a hand before an aircraft does actually land on a coal loading dock; or a forecast of no fog claims a couple of hundred lives; or an aircraft thumps into a shopping mall. What’s that you say? – Oh, done that one have we; well, well.

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Ah, but the minister is on to the game now; we are to have a gab-fest; yes, we are! Only to look at how best to rescue a dying industry mind you. Only a very select group has been invited to attend.

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Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester.

Why would you invite a maintenance expert along to such a party; why would you invite the boss of one of Australia’s biggest contributors to GA safety in a high risk field; and why, for goodness sake would you invite representatives of the aircraft owners and pilots association along.

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AAOPA rep  …An internationally recognized aviation expert with over thirty years of experience in civil aviation, Mike offers extensive experience in general and commercial aviation, and substantial knowledge of corporate governance, regulatory processes and safety management systems. His aviation qualifications include both Australian and United States FAA licenses encompassing a broad spectrum of activity, from aircraft maintenance, through to commercial, recreational and sports flying operations.

Mike has held senior positions with both Air services Australia and the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), most recently at the level of Deputy Director. Mike has led numerous complex programs including the introduction of Global Navigation Satellite Systems for en-route, non-precision and precision approach use, development and introduction of Safety Management Systems (SMS) and Australian Airspace Reform. 

Since leaving the Australian Civil Service, Mike has been engaged as a senior consultant by airlines and aviation regulators around the world, predominantly advising clients in the areas of regulatory reform, ICAO USOAP and FAA IASA compliance and the introduction of Safety Management Systems and risk based oversight principles into their organizations. Recent clients include the World Bank and the civil aviation administrations of Singapore, the UAE, Nigeria and Bahrain. Mike led the World Bank funded program that gained IASA category one status for Nigeria in 2010, allowing that country’s airlines to operate to the USA. Nigeria remains one of only six African nations to hold that status...…smith.html

It’s a ridiculous notion to have the man who should be CEO of CASA; an ex CASA heavyweight on aircraft maintenance and a top draw executive from a successful, safe, profitable branch of industry attend. WTF would they know. Rock on Darren 6D; show us what democracy means and how the constitution matters.

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“Democracy is no harlot to be picked up in the street by a man with a tommy gun. I trust the people, the mass of the people, in almost any country, but I like to make sure that it is the people and not a gang of bandits from the mountains or the countryside who think that by violence they can overturn constituted authority.

No matter; we shall complete the research then send it off to ICAO and a friend or two in the FAA – see what they make of it all – clearly Darren 6D ain’t interested; perhaps we may get a bit more than a polite duck off note from them; who knows. We shall see.

Big day today for me; the master craftsman is visiting to look at the armoire restoration. All of 80 y.o still spry with a gimlet eye, he supplied the timber I needed to exactly match the mouldings and lent me the moulding planes to make the replacements.

Those planes are a work of art; hand made, with precision in beautiful rosewood. I’ve hardly ever used such and there are things one must know and rules which must be followed; I practiced on scraps until I took a big, deep breath and began in earnest to faithfully reproduce the mouldings; a little blood, not too much sweat and almost some tears as a ruined, almost perfect piece was binned due my clumsiness. Well, they’re done now and await the masters approval. I shall hate returning his tools to him; they are not only things of great beauty and precision, but they work; flawlessly. “Come on dogs, lets be having you; much to do”. Ambles off into the mist, thinking of errors made which cannot escape notice.


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