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Thursday, 10 October 1985
Page: 995

Senator SANDERS(3.17) —I rise to speak to this paper because it is a very serious indictment of the state of the aviation industry-in fact, the whole aviation movement-in Australia at the moment. Of course, people outside the industry also fly aeroplanes. I refer specifically to the general aviation section of this paper. Page 23 shows that activity in all but the charter sectors of general aviation is less than it has been in previous peak times. This is directly attributable to the Department of Aviation.

General aviation is a little recognised component of the whole aviation movement in Australia. General aviation actually has far more flights than the airlines and far more hours are flown. The general aviation sector is very important in rural and outback areas which rely on smaller aircraft for the movement of goods and passengers. General aviation has been hamstrung in recent years by a number of cost increases. One of the major increases is in the cost recovery program of the Department of Aviation, that is, the air navigation charges. I had a Cessna 180 aircraft which was costing $900 a year in air navigation charges. These charges were levied, supposedly, to pay for the costs expended by the Government for my benefit. These costs were not expended for my benefit but for the benefit of the Department of Aviation. I benefited very little from them. All in the general aviation industry are asked to pay for the very bloated bureaucrats in the Department of Aviation who merely wield rubber stamps.

Another difficulty for general aviation is the very restrictive and complicated air traffic control procedures which are presided over by the Department of Aviation. In many instances, the Department's procedures are actually decreasing aircraft safety. All the control zones are in basins around the capital cities, surrounded by mountainous areas. The Department of Aviation, by design, makes it so difficult for a general aviation aircraft to fly into these control zones according to visual flight rules that pilots will often attempt to a avoid the zones in bad weather and, in so doing, will jeopardise the aircraft and the passengers on board with terrible results. Accidents take place often in the mountainous areas surrounding control zones.

The other aspect of the Department of Aviation which is hampering general aviation is the complete lack of rapport between Department of Aviation personnel and the flying public-the general aviation sector. The DOA considers itself a policeman of the regulations-not a co-worker with the pilot in the cockpit-to make sure that the pilot is not in violation. It is well known in aviation circles that if a general aviation aircraft has an accident, it would be wise to have a solicitor draw up the accident report rather than the pilot himself because the Department of Aviation may actually take legal action against any pilot who has an accident.

Another example is the reluctance of general aviation pilots to declare emergencies in flight. One would think that, given the skilled staff of the Department of Aviation-there are some left on the ground in the control towers-a pilot would be very eager to declare an emergency. But this is not so because the Department of Aviation requires a whole series of inquiries upon the declaration of an emergency which may then lead to the loss of licence for the general aviation pilot. I hope that the Department of Aviation takes a good look at its own report and that it takes my remarks to heart because it is stifling general aviation in this country. General aviation deserves to be given far more support than it has been getting.

Question resolved in the affirmative.