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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 2934

Senator MacGIBBON(9.44) —I wonder whether the Minister can find out for me what it costs the Department to provide the current bills that are being issued to general aviation aircraft for the use of airways and airfield services. In case the Minister does not fully understand it, I will explain that in previous times light aircraft and privately owned aircraft had to pay an air navigation charge which has risen from about $80 for a light aircraft about 12 years ago to about $800 or $900 a year now. There has been a 17 per cent rise in that charge this year. Under the new scheme introduced, the air navigation charge has been cut to 50 per cent of its former value and aircraft are billed for every operation they make. A minimal operation from a secondary airport around Australia probably costs around $11.70. In general terms, for someone who flies very little, instead of paying $800 or $900 a year in air navigation charges, the figure would be about $2,000 for a quite low level of operation in a 12 month period. The frightening thing for the aviation community is that this is only the beginning. If we have a 17 per cent rise on that, as we have on air navigation charges this year, no one will be able to fly. But I would like to know what it costs the Department every month to prepare, type out and post this bill for the $11.70 charge? The way that the Department operates, I would think that it probably costs about $21 or $22 to prepare.

Whilst I am talking on this matter, has the Department considered the chicanery and corruption that this is producing in otherwise honest people? It is now common practice around the country that people give no details when they go flying. They give no sign on the radio. They just take off and go. People are using false call signs. Instead of using the registration letters on the aircraft in the way everyone has done since time began, they now use Mickey Mouse fictional call signs. Of course, most aircraft are always out of sight and just in radio communication so there is no way of policing this. As an old airman, I am appalled at the way that this is coming into the aviation community. Of course, it has the consequence of a degradation of safety, the very thing that we do not want to encourage in the aviation community.