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Wednesday, 16 February 2000
Page: 11828

Senator GREIG (10:43 AM) —The Democrats support the passage of the Civil Aviation Amendment Bill 1998. It is primarily a machinery bill, and for that reason I do not propose to speak at great length on it. The bill involves some technical changes to the Civil Aviation Act and aims to harmonise it with the international standards of safety regulation. I also understand that one of its aims is to make the act shorter and simpler, and that has to be a good thing.

As a result of reviews of aviation regulation between 1988 and 1991, the Civil Aviation Authority began in 1993 a program of redrafting the legislative structure of safety regulations. Since the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, CASA, was established in 1995, it has continued the process of rewriting the entire safety regulations and associated advisory documentation. One of the key features of the bill relates to the retention and destruction of goods. The bill provides CASA with new powers in relation to the retention and destruction of goods seized by it in the course of investigating breaches of the Civil Aviation Act 1988. The power to retain seized goods for longer than 60 days and the power to destroy seized goods are vested in the courts, and CASA may apply to the court for orders to retain or destroy, as the case may be.

The second main feature of the bill relates to the regulations. The existing act contains various references to `civil aviation regulations'. These references will be changed to `the regulations' or to `regulations made under this act'. Other changes of terminology will also need to be made to enable the incorporation of overseas standards and requirements. The Civil Aviation Act is also being amended to permit this subdelegation of power to CASA to make decisions of a legislative nature in a similar manner to the US federal aviation administration. This obviously requires streamlining of the current act in line with overseas developments. The principles underlying the new regulations require that, firstly, they are harmonised internationally with the USA federal aviation regulations and the European joint aviation regulations so there is a coordination between the two key bodies; secondly, they are clear, concise and understandable; thirdly, they have a safety outcome approach; fourthly, they are enforceable; fifthly, they avoid over-regulation; and, sixthly, they are consistent with the role of CASA. The third major feature of the bill is that the fees may be changed by CASA. This part of the bill clarifies CASA's ability to classify the fees charged by it as a debt due to it. Where regulations made under the act require the payment of a fee and the fee is not paid by the due date, a late fee can be imposed.

The fourth and final aspect that I wish to mention relates to the design standards. The regulatory changes will, by giving CASA the power to design standards, streamline many of the current CASA requirements and assist the manufacture of aircraft in Australia. This should, hopefully, be of significant benefit to the aviation industry. Finally, I would add that I have considered the government amendments, which have been circulated, and indicate that the Democrats are supportive of them.