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Thursday, 24 June 1999
Page: 7507


Mr ANTHONY (Community Services) (10:30 AM) —I would like to thank members for their contribution today: the member for Chifley, who always gives a very clear view—whether it is on the Damage by Aircraft Bill 1999 , the people of Western Sydney or even areas of child support—and the member for Prospect, who has on more than one occasion been quite vocal, particularly when it comes to aircraft noise.

This bill, the Damage by Aircraft Bill 1999 , repeals and replaces the current Civil Aviation (Damage by Aircraft) Act 1958 and in particular has implications for the Rome Convention on Damage Caused by Foreign Aircraft to Third Parties on the Surface 1952. This bill will attempt to overcome many anomalies. I also thank other honourable members who have contributed to this debate.

I would like to respond briefly to a number of issues raised by the member for Blair. The honourable member discussed a crash between two gliders that occurred in January 1997 and asked why the bill covered damage to property on the ground but not damage to other aircraft. The government's view is that the benefits of strict and unlimited liability are only appropriate for those parties who can reasonably be predicted to be without fault in an air accident, that is, the non-flying public and their property.

As far as aircraft owners and operators are concerned, it is essential that they carry adequate insurance. In the situation outlined by the member for Blair, hull insurance would cover the damage to the operator's own aircraft and his or her third party liability insurance would cover damage to other parties' aircraft or its non fare paying passengers. Most operators take out cover for those various liabilities as part of a comprehensive all risks single limit cover.

The member for Blair also gave an example of an accident between a taxiing aircraft and an aircraft that was landing. The landing aircraft would be held strictly responsible under the act for any damage to third parties even if it was not entirely at fault. In practice, the owners and insurers of the landing aircraft would pay damages under the bill and then settle the matter with the insurers of the taxiing aircraft on the basis of the hull and third party cover of the aircraft involved. In a case like this, it would be likely that both aircraft would be found to have some degree of fault.

Again, it is essential that the owners and operators of aircraft carry adequate insurance cover to protect themselves in situations like this. This bill will have an impact on all operators at all airports across Australia. I know that it is certainly endorsed by the people in my electorate. We have the sixth busiest airport in Australia, which is the Coolangatta-Gold Coast airport. I commend the bill to the committee.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Hollis) —If no member wishes to consider the bill in detail, I will put the report question forthwith. The question now is that this bill be reported to the House without amendment.

Question resolved in the affirmative.