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“We know what we are, but not what we may be.” – AP Forum version.

“What value do you (as in me – singular) place on the incumbent minister?” “Construe boy” was the call (bark) from a fairly hefty BRB quorum. When peers and betters phrase a question in such a manner, ‘tis better to cry off; beg time to consider. Alas; soon or late, one is obliged to respond. The options are as many as the ways to examine the question; what, in short form, do I wonder, would be a considered response. Well; the long and the short of it is what is the minister responsible doing? The answer of course is SDA. Not only SDA, but he’s a’doing exactly that which is required; avoiding all ministerial responsibility – as directed by his advisors.

‘Responsible’ – an interesting adjective.
“Adjectives are words that are used to describe or modify nouns or pronouns. For example, red, quick, happy, and obnoxious are adjectives because they can describe things—a red hat, the quick rabbit, a happy duck, an obnoxious person”.

Responsible. Meaning “accountable for one’s actions” is attested from 1640s; that of “reliable, trustworthy” is from 1690s. It retains the sense of “obligation” in the Latin root word. Related: Responsibly.

My own first encounter with real responsibility, of a grown up kind, was being presented with a puppy and a new brother simultaneously. Happily, I was given much guidance and support in the ‘why for’ and the ‘how to’ meet and carry the burdens imposed. For suddenly, my days of unlimited freedom carried an understanding that responsibility came at a cost. The rewards immeasurable; puppy into a stalwart companion of adventure and fun; baby into boy, a lifelong friend with whom adventure, good times and bad could always be shared – both well worth any small restriction placed by a ‘duty of care’. The sense of ‘responsibility’ carries through to adult life – one learns, growing to adulthood that the early lessons were of great value in whatever field of endeavour you played on. So much so that accepting the ‘responsibility’ for an aircraft, full of passengers holds no fears, just part and parcel of being a responsible adult, doing a job, without cold shivers. You may well wonder what the fool is rambling on about; well, its to do with the complete, chronic lack of ministerial responsibility, over decades, for matters aeronautical.

Monty Python neatly personifies the typical ministerial response to the three headed beast of ASA, ATSB and CASA. There is little humour in the reality of the challenge; but there is the small matter of ministerial responsibility, a duty of care and an oath sworn to consider:-

Individual ministerial responsibility is a constitutional convention in governments using the Westminster System that a cabinet minister bears the ultimate responsibility for the actions of their ministry or department. Individual ministerial responsibility is not the same as cabinet collective responsibility, which states members of the cabinet must approve publicly of its collective decisions or resign. This means that a motion for a vote of “no confidence” is not in order should the actions of an organ of government fail in the proper discharge of their responsibilities. Where there is ministerial responsibility, the accountable minister is expected to take the blame and ultimately resign, but the majority or coalition within parliament of which the minister is part, is not held to be answerable for that minister’s failure.

This means that if waste, corruption, or any other misbehavior is found to have occurred within a ministry, the minister is responsible even if the minister had no knowledge of the actions. A minister is ultimately responsible for all actions by a ministry because, even without knowledge of an infraction by subordinates, the minister approved the hiring and continued employment of those civil servants. If misdeeds are found to have occurred in a ministry, the minister is expected to resign. It is also possible for a minister to face criminal charges for malfeasance under their watch.

The principle is considered essential, as it is seen to guarantee that an elected official is answerable for every single government decision. It is also important to motivate ministers to closely scrutinize the activities within their departments. One rule coming from this principle is that each cabinet member answers for their own ministry in parliament’s question time. The reverse of ministerial responsibility is that civil servants are not supposed to take credit for the successes of their department, allowing the government to claim them.
 – – – – – – – – – EoQ.

In recent years some commentators have argued the notion of ministerial responsibility has been eroded in many Commonwealth countries. As the doctrine is a constitutional convention, there is no formal mechanism for enforcing the rule. Today ministers frequently use ignorance of misbehaviour as an argument for lack of culpability. While opposition parties rarely accept this argument, the electorate is often more accepting. In most other Commonwealth countries such cases are today hardly ever brought to trial

Mr Comrie has done an excellent job in providing his report. It is the latest revelation of incompetence and mismanagement in Senator Vanstone’s department. It reinforces, unfortunately, many of the damning findings of the Palmer report into the case of Ms Rau. Mr Palmer commented that it was difficult to see how the people responsible for such failed practices, poor decisions and regrettable outcomes could have the credibility and objectivity to bring about the fundamental change of mindset that is necessary. But Senator Vanstone ignored that finding and recommendation by Mr Palmer. Mr Howard, the Prime Minister, also ignored that recommendation. Senator Vanstone remains responsible for the department, although she accepts no responsibility for what it does.

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Inset pic reference links:…st10542201 &
Choppagirl (Rossair crash) – Mythical reform post #109 & Catch Up or Ketchup? 

The history of ministerial abrogation, capture and denial of responsibility for aviation has a long, inglorious history in this wide brown land; the land of a ‘fair-go’, democracy and freedom from oppression. We have, in essence, allowed a system of ministerial protection to gain not only ascendency, but untrammelled, unchallengeable power, which stand, alone, is a national disgrace. Adding injury to insult is a parliamentary bi-partisan acquiescence to this system; but it becomes truly disgraceful when both operators and public pay for this; yet air service providers dare not, cannot, nor will not voice any objection – for fear of terrible retribution.

The list of incompetence, the conga line of complainants; and, the never ending Daisy chain of evidence supporting claims of ‘Embuggerance’ – under law, policy or whimsy; as and when pleases stretches almost to infinity against the CASA. The ASA is an acknowledged basket case in desperate need of competent management. The ATSB is the laughing stock of international air accident investigators. In short minister, it is a total Ducking mess, beyond any form of control and growing worse every hour you sit on your shiny arse, dodging your responsibility to this nation and making a nonsense of the oaths you swore.

The minister has, IMO but two options; grasp the nettle and ring in meaningful changes; or, stand responsible; acknowledging a breech of trust, a gross dereliction of duty, abrogation of responsibility and resign. Make no mistake: the responsibility, no matter how good the defence is, falls on the incumbent minister for the dreadful state Australian aviation has descended into.

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‘Such questions cannot be answered,’ said Gandalf. ‘You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess. But you have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have. ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

A final insult is the convenient ‘Bi-partisan’ agreement which allowed the Chimera to grow, like Topsy, into an uncontrollable monster. It begs the question minister “are ye a man or mouse”? Time will no doubt write the epitaph.

Aye well, the weather is wild and windy today, the dogs love to chase the wind through the trees laying back ears into the headwind, in an attempt to reduce the drag – basic aerodynamics at an elemental level; but I can’t help but wonder why they don’t put ‘em up with a tail wind? Ayup; some mysteries are unfathomable.