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Perception and perspective. – AP Forum version.

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‘S a funny old world. Never really decided whether it was funny Ha-Ha or funny peculiar. Part of this stems from which ‘world’ you live in. Take the political world for example, how far is that removed from say the world of some poor bugger out on the land who has just lost 14,000 head of cattle through drought or flood; or, someone who’s home and everything has been lost in a bush fire. You could step that down and relate it to someone who’s aviation business is groaning and struggling under the regulatory burden. Inevitably – when a group of people get together to discuss a particular event or circumstance, the politicians get dragged into the mix. Everyone has an opinion and nearly always a solution – more discussion. I like to listen to these ‘chats’ sitting back a little without buying in.  The one consistent element is always the ‘perception’ folk have of the different politicians – of every stripe; and, how this is moderated by their own perspective of the world. One thing is for certain sure – ‘how’ a politician is ‘seen’ is important to re-election, image is all important.

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“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.” ― William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

This got me thinking. There is an old, well proven adage related to matters aeronautical which has stood the test of time. “Give ‘em a good flight and they’ll complain the coffee was cold”. They may mention this only when the airline name crops up. “Give ‘em a bad flight and they’ll tell at least 10 people about it, every year”. Never mention at any sort of gathering that you fly aircraft; you will be regaled with all manner of ‘horror stories’ and questions. Tedious. It’s all about what is in the eye of the beholder. Which brings us to the image of the incumbent minister for transport – as seen by the aviation community. The same principal applied to his tenure would do a lot of damage to not only himself, but his party. If every man, woman and child told ten people about the truly shocking performance of this ‘minister’ in managing his portfolio, perhaps the message would get delivered to those who matter and can actually do something about bringing in a more able man, before the moribund industry draws it’s last breath.

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“Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls:
Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
’twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him, 
And makes me poor indeed.” ― William Shakespeare, Othello

Take latest Regional Express (REX) teacup storm. A success story and an asset to regional centres; did anyone ever wonder why they have stuck with the aging SAAB aircraft when there are more modern aircraft available? Commercial reasons apart, any analysis on bringing in a ‘new’ type demonstrates a lengthy, expensive operational hole in a large budget solely due to the mass of regulatory hurdles which must be jumped; it is truly a mind boggling mountain to climb; and, it is growing every day. No wonder a crew like REX prefer to make do and mend; without even considering how long it will take to make a return on the huge sums which are required to upgrade. Regional and ‘feeder’ airlines are an essential element in a country like Oz. Once you move away from the major cities and towns, the motor vehicle and many hours of driving are your only hope of getting about the place and we kill a whole lot more on our roads than we do through aviation – a lot more – all day, every day.

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One could take a view that the minister is actually responsible for that carnage; actually responsible for the unbelievable difficulties in progressing, expanding and modernising aviation services. Which begs the question – if the man can’t sort out the troubles affecting ‘transport’ what chance is there he can run the nation – should the need arise?

With a stroke of a pen reform of the regulator could be happening today; with a second, industry could be up and running within a twelve month on modern regulations which would see the industry bloom, become safer and profitable almost overnight. Yet the resident village idiot prefers to sip the Kool-Aid and pretend all is just as it should be. That’s what his experts tell him; and, so long as his arse is well and truly covered, life in his little, narrow world is rosy.

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“Wake! For the Sun, who scatter’d into flight
The Stars before him from the Field of Night,
Drives Night along with them from Heav’n,
and strikes
The Sultan’s Turret with a Shaft of Light” ― Omar Khayyám, The Ruba’iyat of Omar Khayyam

My tote board has some interesting bets placed on just how long a government minister can dance about the growing pile of embers, remnants of an industry, without setting fire to his Gucci clad feet in an attempt to keep his hands warm. Time for an accounting methinks – or yet another pointless inquiry, paid for by the people. Value for money? Not bloody likely.

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Aye well, that’s my two bob, spent as pleased me best. There are better things to occupy mind and hands than watching more of the same history being repeated; if I can ever drag the dogs away from the stove. They say dogs come from bears; hibernation a generic trait. Yet, as I swap Ugg boots for boots, there is an eye or two open, an ear twitched and after some lazy stretching – scratching and yawning – I believe we may yet venture out into the wide world.

“And in that very moment, away behind in some far corner of the city, a cock crowed. Shrill and clear he crowed reckoning nothing of wizardry or war, welcoming only the morning that in the sky far above the shadows of death was coming with the dawn.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King