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Tuesday, 20 April 1999
Page: 3941

Senator O'Brien asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, upon notice, on 7 December 1998:

(1) With reference to the answer to question on notice no. 1 (Senate Hansard, 23 November 1998, p318) can the Minister advise on how the 10 day rule contributed to the closure of Sydney Airport in July 1998.

(2) What other factors contributed to that closure.

(3) Can it be confirmed that a number of replacement controllers were excluded from being called in as a consequence of the 8 day rule introduced by Mr Ludlow.

(4) Can it be confirmed that the closure was a result of Mr Ludlow's 8 day rule rather than the 10 day rule provided for in the Airservices enterprise bargaining agreement.

(5) Has Airservices Australia now withdrawn Mr Ludlow's 8 day rule; if so, when did this occur.

(6) Was Mr Ludlow's 8 day rule withdrawn following a hearing of the industrial Relations Commission.

(7) With reference to part 4 of the answer to question on notice no. 1, which states that the 10 day rule is a maximum and is subject to a `variation based on local circumstances': can a copy be provided of the document(s) that state that rostering principles are subject to `variation based on local circumstances'.

Senator Ian Macdonald (Regional Services, Territories and Local Government) —Representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

Airservices Australia has advised that:

(1) The reference to the "10 day rule" was in error and should have referred to the "8 day rule" that had been introduced prior to that time.

Under both the 10 day rule and the 8 day rule there could be a reduction in the number of air traffic controllers that would be available to replace staff who were absent from duty.

(2) High sick leave levels, late notice of the absence of one of the night shift controllers and the contingency arrangements that were in force at the time.

(3) Yes. However, a major factor leading to the non-availability of replacement staff in July 1998 was late notice given by the second night shift controller.

(4) Refer to replies to questions (2) and (3) above.

(5) The rostering arrangements introduced by Mr Ludlow were withdrawn on 9 July 1998.

(6) No. The arrangements were withdrawn prior to the Industrial Relations Commission hearing.

(7) The enterprise bargaining agreement provided for a minimum of three shifts and a maximum of 10 shifts to be worked and the Minister has arranged for a copy of the relevant section to be forwarded to your office.