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Tuesday, 9 February 1999
Page: 2188

Ms KERNOT —My question is to the Minister for Transport and Regional Services. Minister, do you agree with the statement made on last night's 7.30 Report by Mr Dick Smith that CASA, its board and its director were `pretty well ineffective'? If you do agree, what action will you take to restore CASA's effectiveness, and will you widen your inquiry into BASI to include CASA?

Mr ANDERSON (Deputy Prime Minister) —I thank the honourable member for her question. I note that since I indicated yesterday that the government would be calling a review into BASI—a review which I think is probably timely, because there has not been one for nine years, and I think it is healthy just to ensure that it is operating as it ought, that it is meeting the expectations of the travelling population in Australia and that it is enjoying satisfactory levels of independence—the member for Dickson promptly responded by saying that we ought to have an inquiry into CASA as well. It is worth noting that there has been one inquiry into BASI over the last nine years; in that period of time there have been 14 into CASA and its predecessor.

Ms Kernot —And where are the complaints about BASI?

Mr ANDERSON —The member for Dickson would like to make it 15. The fact of the matter is that CASA has been inquired into unto the point of death and utter fatigue. We know what is wrong. We have been informed, if I can say so, by the chairman of CASA and others of some of the things that need to be addressed. The point is that this government acknowledges that and has given CASA an effective board made up of people who understand aviation safety issues. That board has the capacity and power to address the issues that they say are of concern within their own organisation. I have had several meetings not only with the chairman but with the board as well. They are putting in place the mechanisms and the responses that they need and that are appropriate to ensure that CASA is able to maximise the level of its performance.

I conclude by saying that it is very unfortunate indeed that the shadow spokesman for aviation in this place seems to be determined to cast doubt on the arrangements we have in place in this country in relation to aviation safety. Our record is amongst the most outstanding in the world. We ought to be proud of that. It is not at risk.

Mr Beazley —I raise a point of order on relevance. A question was asked about Smith's views, not hers.

Mr SPEAKER —I will determine whether an answer is relevant. Obviously, under the standing orders you are perfectly at liberty to draw my attention to the matter. The minister was entirely relevant and, I believe, has concluded his answer.