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Wednesday, 8 November 2000
Page: 19433

Senator GREIG (4:17 PM) —In summing up, I would like to make a few points. Firstly, I would like to acknowledge that Senator O'Brien did ask some pertinent questions with respect to CASA's chair today in question time. While there may be problems surrounding the qualifications that Dr Scully-Power holds, we Democrats have always been more concerned with focusing on policy rather than personality. However, we recognise that CASA's approach to aviation regulation has many problems and that this proposed regulation change is symptomatic of that approach within CASA.

Senator O'Brien made a point about parts and spare parts. I would comment that these new regulations would mean, in continuing the car analogy, for example, that aircraft owners can only use original manufactures, not spares from, say, Repco. Senator O'Brien also made the point that Labor would have been prepared to disallow this entire set of regulations rather than simply part 47. I make the point that, if that was Labor's position, it did not at any stage state that to the Democrats, and today is the first I have heard of it. Towards the end of his speech, Senator Macdonald said that Mr Munro had not accepted his invitation to participate in the coming consultation and inquiry process. I understand from Mr Munro that the reason he did not accept the invitation is because he believes that the present aircraft register is sufficient. Perhaps he may consider participating in some way to present that case, but at this stage he has chosen not to.

In a general sense, in terms of the issue before us, my underlying concern is that the transport minister, Mr Anderson, appears to have no real commitment to general aviation and, as minister, has not successfully advocated what we Democrats would consider to be aviation reform. As it happens, general aviation is a significant and very necessary part of rural and regional communities and rural and regional economies—an area that Mr Anderson as both a member of parliament and Leader of the National Party claims to represent. This is evidenced by the overwhelming support that I and other MPs have received in terms of opposing regulation 47, whether through letters, emails or faxes. A great many of them came from rural and regional areas.

In a general sense I am concerned that what appears to be happening at times with CASA is that they seem to be busying themselves with what Jim Hacker from Yes, Prime Minister might have described as creative inertia—or perhaps that was Sir Humphrey. CASA, by busying themselves with over-regulation, seem to be producing more and more obscure, unnecessary and abundant regulations as a way of seemingly justifying their own existence. General aviation activity in Australia has slipped to an all-time low. The point that Senator O'Brien made in terms of the letters and faxes that we senators have been receiving is that they have been unanimous. Senator O'Brien was not clear that they were unanimous, but certainly from my observation—from the approximately 1,000 which I received, which I understand represents 65 to 70 per cent of small plane owners across the nation—not one of them, not one letter, fax or phone call from a general aviation pilot, said, `Yes, this is a good and necessary regulation; yes, we want your support for it. Please don't oppose it.' Quite the contrary. So, given all that, I think it best that regulation 47 be disallowed.

Question resolved in the affirmative.