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Wednesday, 23 March 1994
Page: 2016


Senator COULTER (10.13 a.m.) —I wish to speak only very briefly in support of the disallowance motion moved by Senator MacGibbon. From time to time these very technical matters come up. I cannot claim to have any of the technical expertise that Senator MacGibbon has demonstrated in covering the matter in some detail; however, it seems to me that on general principles there is a situation here where regulations have been in place for some time, those regulations have been satisfactory with respect to air safety, and the need to change them has not been adequately demonstrated. Under the circumstances, it seems appropriate to disallow these regulations until better argument is brought forward.

  Having been approached by Senator MacGibbon and given a great deal of information, including a letter from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Australia—presumably a body with some experience in this matter—and with the government having the knowledge that this disallowance motion was on the Notice Paper, I was somewhat disappointed that I had not been approached by the government with any alternative information. Again, on the general proposition that the case for changing these regulations has not been established and because, if such a case can be made, government can come back and reintroduce these regulations if it so wishes, it seems appropriate to support this disallowance and stay with the status quo. One letter that has been put before me by the pilots is from the Civil Aviation Authority which, in part, says:

  If your association believes that some form of weight exemption for VFR aircraft should be reinstated you might like to provide arguments and data to support this contention so that the CAA is in a position to properly review the requirement.

It seems that in that sentence alone the CAA is essentially admitting that there might be other information and data which would cause it to change its mind with respect to the particular exemption dealt with at some length by Senator MacGibbon.

  Senator MacGibbon spoke about weather forecasts. While I am not and never have been a pilot, I have done a fair bit of sailing and I can vouch for what he says about weather forecasts. When one is only a matter of a nautical mile or so off the South Australian coast one can kiss goodbye to most of the weather forecasts. One has to steer according to one's observation. The point that he made about pilots being very circumspect and accepting the absolute veracity of weather forecasts is very valid. Linked with that is the point he has made as to the availability of weather forecasts and the way in which they are made available. For those general and—to some extent—specific reasons, the Democrats will support the disallowance motion moved by Senator MacGibbon.