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Thursday, 24 June 2010
Page: 4389

Senator XENOPHON (4:31 PM) —In summing up this debate, I thank honourable senators for their contributions in relation to this, and I note that the coalition and the Australian Greens support the disallowance of these regulations. So clearly the numbers are with the disallowance. There are a couple of short points that I need to make. Firstly, I need to correct a statement that I made in the Senate during this debate when I said:

That means that in the unlikely event of an emergency an off-duty pilot who is on the flight but not on the flight deck at that time would not be allowed to access the cockpit to assist and ensure the safety of passengers, because that would be illegal.

Guy Maclean, from the Australian and International Pilots Association has made the point that that is not correct. The regulations do allow this to occur but only in reaction to the occurrence of a safety incident where the pilots are concerned that denying a pilot the jump seat removed the opportunity for a trained pilot to prevent an incident occurring in the first place. Furthermore, the pilots association made another point in relation to Senator Evans’s contribution on behalf of the government, when Senator Evans stated:

The government has placed responsibility for this important measure on the pilot who is operationally in charge of the aircraft at the time. If the chief pilot is on a sleep break or on a long-haul flight then responsibility rests with the pilot who is in command of the aircraft at the time.

The pilots association tells me that this is not correct. The regulations target only one person with criminal strict liability. The pilot in command, no matter where he is, what he is doing or who is flying the plane, is the one who is responsible, not the on-duty pilot, as the government has implied. There is only one pilot in command on a flight; this person never changes. That is something that I think needs to be pointed out.

The government has also made the point that if these regulations are disallowed there is nothing there. There is a void. That seems to be the argument. That is not the case. The situation is that we revert back to the initial regulations—the status quo that existed previously where there is no strict criminal liability but there are still safeguards in place in terms of cockpit security and where pilots are not being punished under a regime of strict liability, which is one that is unprecedented anywhere else, according to the Australian and International Pilots Association. I would urge the Senate to disallow these regulations so we can go back to a more sensible regime and encourage the government to negotiate this with airline pilots. I note the support of the coalition and the Australian Greens in relation to the disallowance of this motion, and I am grateful for that support.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Trood)—The question is that the motion in the name of Senator Xenophon be agreed to. Those in favour say aye; those against say no.

Government senator—No.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —I think the ayes have it.

Government senator —The noes have it.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —I remind honourable senators that if a division is called on a Thursday after 4.30 pm, the matter before the Senate shall be adjourned pursuant to standing order 57(3) until the next day of sitting at a time to be fixed by the Senate. Accordingly, the matter is adjourned.