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Wednesday, 23 March 1994
Page: 2017


Senator FAULKNER (Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Minister for Defence Science and Personnel and Minister for Sport and Territories) (10.16 a.m.) —I am struggling with this, being neither a pilot nor a sailor! I am probably here under false pretences, but I will do my best regardless. As I understand it, we are here asking pilots in planning a flight to have regard to certain information that is crucial for air navigation safety. That is the fundamental principle.

  As I understand it, this is not unusual information which is difficult to obtain. It is information that reasonable people would consider both necessary and essential to be gained before attempting to fly a plane. The reality is that if that is not done then a person may be prosecuted.

  Let us look at what regulation 239 refers to. It asks a pilot to take into account any instructions under regulation 240. These are instructions issued by the Civil Aviation Authority that bind the pilot. It also asks the pilot to take account of information such as current weather reports or forecasts for the route to be followed and the aerodrome to be used; the airways facilities available on the route and the condition of the facilities; the condition of the relevant aerodromes and their suitability for the aircraft to be used;

the air traffic control instructions and information relating to the flight; and any other information that is available and appropriate to the flight.

  As I say, it is reasonable information that the Civil Aviation Authority believes is crucial for a pilot to be apprised of before he or she begins a flight. There has been some talk about the level of penalties involved. I think this is a matter of great concern to Senator MacGibbon and perhaps is the nub of the argument he presented this morning to the Senate. These penalties have been determined and agreed in consultation with the Attorney-General. They are considered appropriate for the level of the offence. But it ought to be said clearly that the CAA does not use prosecution proposals often. It is a last resort and has been very rarely invoked. In fact, the CAA encourages counselling of pilots in most instances unless clear breaches of safety have been involved.

  In these circumstances, Senator MacGibbon's proposal to disallow new regulation 239, as contained in regulation 16 of the Civil Aviation Regulations (Amendment), contained in Statutory Rules 1993 No. 319 and made under the Civil Aviation Act, is a gross over-reaction to this situation. I believe it is appropriate that the regulation stand. I think that is in the interests of all those who take into account issues of air navigation safety. I urge the Senate to oppose this disallowance motion that has been moved this morning by Senator MacGibbon.