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Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee
Civil Aviation Safety Authority

Civil Aviation Safety Authority

Senator STERLE: Crikey, don't tell me, Mr Carmody, you are the boss now. Are you?

Mr Carmody : It would appear so, Senator.

Senator STERLE: Crikey!

CHAIR: Welcome, Mr Carmody. We appreciate your patience. We are running a wee bit over time. Senator Sterle, you have the floor.

Senator STERLE: Thank you, Chair. Mr Carmody, why did Mr Skidmore leave?

Mr Carmody : I have got his media release.

Senator STERLE: Why don't you just tell us? We know what that says. Tell us what really happened.

Mr Carmody : The announcement that was made was that he wanted to explore a number of new opportunities, so he decided to move on.

Senator STERLE: So it was all cheese and bickies, everyone was happy and throwing rose leaves on each other as he left?

Mr Carmody : As far as I know. He left a week ago, because I have been in the chair a week now. He finished on the seventh and I started on the 10th.

Senator STERLE: Has CASA done an exit interview or similar with Mr Skidmore?

Mr Carmody : No.

Senator STERLE: Do you plan to?

Mr Carmody : I was not planning to.

Senator STERLE: Would you normally if someone left two years into a five-year term?

Mr Carmody : I think it is up to the CEO if he decides to leave during his term or at the end of his term. He put in his resignation. I would not normally do an exit interview with the former CEO. I would do it with staff more generally.

Senator STERLE: Why not the CEO?

Mr Carmody : As far as I am concerned, he has moved on.

Senator STERLE: Normally you have to get blasted out of that position.

Mr Carmody : Potentially. We did a handover, so there is no real need for me to do an exit interview because all of the current actions that were underway he has passed to me.

Senator STERLE: Mr Carmody, you might have a vested interest here, so you can declare it if you want. What is the plan now for CASA to replace its department CEO?

Mr Carmody : The board will undertake a recruitment, so they are going to engage a consultant and do a search for a recruit. I have been appointed for a period of no more than 12 months, which is as far as I could be appointed under the act. I do not expect that it will take that long, but that was to give the board some flexibility. I would expect early in the new year that there would be some recruitment activity. I do not think it will be resolved before Christmas.

Senator STERLE: What is the normal gap in between one leaving and another? Is there any trend? I would have thought that people would have been lining up.

Mr Carmody : I do not recall. Mr Mrdak might know how long it took to recruit the previous CEO, but I would have expected a period of three to four months.

Mr Mrdak : The previous process where Mr McCormick's appointment expired to the replacement, when Mr Skidmore started, was about six months.

Senator STERLE: Mr Carmody, are you going to be a candidate?

CHAIR: Mr Carmody does not have to answer that.

Senator STERLE: He can—we go back a long time.

CHAIR: I will leave it up to him. He just needs to know he is not under any obligation to answer the question.

Senator STERLE: What do you reckon, Mr Carmody?

Mr Carmody : It depends on what happens over the next few months and on the board's and my view of my future. I may be; I may not be.

Senator BACK: I think we are well served in having someone of your capacity and background being able to step in.

Mr Carmody : Thanks very much.

Senator STERLE: We know that Airservices has announced a broad program of redundancies—around 1,000 of its 4,500 employees. Is Airservices answerable to you?

Mr Carmody : We regulate Airservices.

Senator STERLE: Have you been briefed on the planned redundancies at Airservices Australia?

Mr Carmody : Airservices and the CASA actually had a joint board meeting last week—which happens infrequently, I understand. There was a discussion. One of the questions that was asked between the two organisations was about what the impact of the redundancies was. We work very closely with Airservices in looking at what they are doing in managing the regulatory framework, so we have been aware of where they are going for some time.

Senator STERLE: What was the outcome? Can you share that with me?

Mr Carmody : The outcome of the discussion was that there would be no impact on aviation safety.

Senator STERLE: Where I get a bit baffled—I understand these things happen from time to time—is how you can have 1,000 people that are surplus to requirements. How does that work?

Mr Carmody : That is a matter for Airservices, who are on after me, but I think the point that they made very clearly was that there would be no impact on the frontline services that they are responsible for—air traffic control, and aviation rescue and firefighting services.

Senator STERLE: Are they subcontracting out the work? You would not have 1,000 employees just sitting around. Are you aware if they had 1,000 employees sitting around and did not know what to do with them?

Mr Carmody : I presume that they have contracted out some non-core services. I do not personally know the answer, because I have only been in the chair a few days. What I did seek was an assurance on aviation safety.

Senator STERLE: Would any of your able lieutenants sitting behind you know?

Mr Carmody : I am not sure.

Senator STERLE: Would they know any more than you?

Mr Carmody : I am not sure that they would, at this stage.

Senator GALLACHER: You mentioned firefighting and airport services.

Mr Carmody : Aviation rescue and firefighting—yes.

Senator GALLACHER: Hasn't there been a change in regulation which would mean that some airports would no longer need firefighting services, under the lifting of passenger numbers?

Mr Carmody : No, at this stage there has not. It is still at 350,000.

Senator GALLACHER: So it has nothing to do with that. Is that still to come?

Mr Carmody : It is still at that threshold. If the threshold were to change, that would be a different issue. At the moment they are still providing rescue and firefighting services in accordance with the regulations that exist now. As far as I know, they are not proposing to change that. We would have a view on whether that met the regulatory requirements.

Senator GALLACHER: Someone is proposing to change that.

Mr Carmody : There is a proposal on foot to raise that threshold, but at the moment that threshold has not been raised. It has been in place for a long period of time. It is based on passenger movement.

Senator GALLACHER: But, were it to be raised, that would impact on firefighting services.

Mr Mrdak : The department is undertaking a process of reviewing the triggers for the introduction of rescue and firefighting services at airports. As Mr Carmody has indicated, the current threshold is at the 350,000 passenger mark. The proposal that is being consulted on by the department is that we move to a threshold around 500,000 passengers and to a risk assessment process around that. That would not have any impact on the existing services at current locations, but, were the government to change the threshold triggers, that would impact on future provision for rescue and firefighting at future aerodromes once airports start to get close to that half a million passenger mark and the risk assessment suggests they need rescue and firefighting.

Senator GALLACHER: So you are saying that places like Uluru would not lose firefighting services as they are currently constituted?

Mr Mrdak : The intention, were the threshold to change, is that the existing services would be grandfathered, subject—

Senator GALLACHER: So the trigger would not apply to them—there would not be any additional redundancies?

Mr Mrdak : There would be a view to establishing threshold points at which, if traffic fell, then the airport provision would be reviewed through a risk assessment—if traffic levels fell below a certain parameter.

Senator STERLE: I will come back to the joint meeting the two boards had. We read 1,000. Did they provide you with a list of exactly how many redundancies they intend to implement?

Mr Carmody : No. I am not even convinced that 1,000 is right. I think it is between about 500 and 900, but they would be able to answer that question for you. I have not got a specific list of the individuals who are being made redundant.

Senator STERLE: No, I understand that.

Mr Carmody : If I may, I do not need to manage their business for them; I need them to maintain a safe operating environment.

Senator STERLE: Absolutely, and this is what I am just trying to get to—and, quite rightfully at this stage; you or CASA have no idea exactly how many redundancies?

Mr Carmody : I am sure that some of our staff know the areas of redundancy. All I am saying is that it is somewhere between 500 and 900. They would be able to give you a number. I do not know whether it is 752 or—

Senator STERLE: No, I fully understand and I do not expect you to know, off the top of your head. But I want to be very clear: does someone in CASA know exactly how many redundancies and in what areas?

Mr Carmody : I do not know the answer directly. I would suspect that we know the areas of the redundancies well, but I do not think a decision has been made by the organisation—they would be able to answer it for you—on what their final number of redundancies would be. I think it would be based on their operational requirement and also on who put forward for a redundancy and whether they would allow that to occur. So I think they have got to manage the numbers.

Senator STERLE: And we will ask those questions—no worries—but I want to be really clear in my mind that CASA, the regulator, is absolutely locked on; whatever Airservices has told them is Mickey Mouse and everyone is safe in the air. At the moment—I am not blaming you—I would have hoped that CASA knows exactly where every single job has gone in which area so that you can come to the committee and tell the Australian people, 'We are absolutely tickety-boo, no dramas. Air safety will not be compromised by these 500—' or 900 or 1000, whatever—redundancies that are going through Airservices, let alone—and we will ask them—what else has been contracted out and to who. Let me put this to you: Airservices have a lot of questions to answer on their contracting-out processes—and you hear that Airservices and you know darn well where we are coming from.

Mr Carmody : To answer your question, I am confident that, as I said, we know the areas where redundancies are occurring. If they are not related to aviation safety, then they are of no concern to us. We would be very concerned if there were redundancies in any area that related to safety; hence my very clear request for assurances that there was nothing happening in relation to aviation safety, and I am confident that our staff would be validating that.

Senator STERLE: These questions will go to Airservices, but to your knowledge has Airservices been required to undertake risk assessment of its change program?

Mr Carmody : I do not have a direct knowledge of that—I would assume so. I would be surprised if they did not do a risk assessment.

Senator STERLE: Spot on. So now I will ask: has CASA required Airservices to change any aspect of its change program? Would anyone behind you be able to tell me that?

Mr Carmody : Not to my knowledge. I might be able to find out as we are working through it today, but not to my knowledge have we required them to change anything.

Senator STERLE: If Dr Aleck or any of the other long-term heads of CASA know, it would help if you could clear it up so that we do not have to come back and grab you after. Chair, that will do for me.

Senator XENOPHON: I want to follow on from Senator Sterle's very important line of questioning about the cuts to Airservices. If this question has been asked I apologise. Was a safety assessment provided to CASA in relation to proposed cuts in staff?

Mr Carmody : I have sought assurance from Airservices that there will be no impact on aviation safety.

Senator XENOPHON: You have sought an assurance?

Mr Carmody : Absolutely. Our staff were working very closely with Airservices and they have assured me that in the functions that I am particularly interested in, air traffic control and aviation regulation of firefighting, those services will remain safe and effective.

Senator XENOPHON: Mr Carmody, you have asked for an assurance, you have been given an assurance, but there has been no robust or independent verification by CASA of that assurance?

Mr Carmody : Senator, as I indicated before you arrived, I have been in this position for a week. My understanding is that our staff have been working very closely with Airservices on these matters for some time.

Senator XENOPHON: I am not being critical of you, Mr Carmody. Please understand that. Normally, given the magnitude of these job cuts—we do not know how many relate to air traffic controllers and training and operational staff—as a matter of course wouldn't there be an appropriate, robust assessment carried out by CASA to, in a sense, audit or verify Airservices' assertions?

Mr Carmody : I am sure that something robust has occurred, Senator. I will have to ask my colleagues, to see whether anybody is aware of anything that might have occurred.

Senator XENOPHON: I would appreciate that. While we are waiting for one of your officers to speak about that, it was not so long ago on this committee—it might have been two or three years ago; maybe Senator Sterle could assist me with this—that I recollect CASA did quite a scathing assessment of Airservices Australia's functioning operations and effectively put them on notice in terms of the way that they were doing business. That is the case, is it not?

Mr Carmody : I am not aware of that. Somebody else might be.

Senator XENOPHON: Have I completely stuffed that up or is that the case?

Mr Tiede : That is exactly the case, Senator.

Senator XENOPHON: I did not stuff that up. I do remember correctly that CASA put Airservices on notice because they were very concerned about aspects of their operation—safety aspects in the way they were operating.

Mr Tiede : That is correct, and a review was conducted by CASA in the back half of last year and into the early part of this year. At that point the conclusion from CASA was that those outstanding recommendations had either been actioned, were in work or otherwise in good hands with Airservices, and the part 172 certificate, the air traffic control certificate, was issued as a clean certificate without conditions. So in that three-year period Airservices had corrected the recommendations from that review you speak of.

Senator XENOPHON: Before I ask this question, may I just say in a very non-religious sense, God bless whistleblowers, because I have just got an email that I want to ask you some questions about. My understanding is that the Airservices board has a safety committee that should have considered the risks associated with the restructuring. Are you aware of that?

Mr Tiede : Yes, I am.

Senator XENOPHON: Did CASA ask Airservices for some sort of evidence that the committee had met and considered the safety implications of the restructure and advised the board?

Mr Tiede : There have been a number of activities going on by CASA in relation to this line of questioning. At the surveillance level, as opposed to the board level that Mr Carmody has been speaking of, there are a number of initiatives that have been following documentation—

Senator XENOPHON: I am going to run out of time soon. There was a direct question. I do want to ask some questions.

CHAIR: You will not run out of time.

Senator XENOPHON: Thank you. Is CASA aware that the Airservices board has a safety committee?

Mr Tiede : Yes.

Senator XENOPHON: Is CASA aware of whether that committee has met or not and considered the safety implications of the restructure?

Mr Tiede : I am not personally aware. I would be surprised if they have not.

Senator XENOPHON: Isn't that something you should be aware of before you tick off all the safety implications of this massive restructure of Airservices?

Mr Carmody : If I may, the safety committee should be providing assurance to the board, and the organisation—the board—will provide assurance to the regulator. The safety committee does not work to me.

Senator XENOPHON: Okay, so these are questions I could properly put towards Airservices, and I will. But my understanding is that Airservices is required to provide a risk assessment to CASA arising out of organisational change. Is that the case?

Mr Tiede : That is correct.

Senator XENOPHON: Have they done this in this case?

Mr Tiede : They have.

Senator XENOPHON: Are you able to provide us with a copy of that risk assessment?

Mr Tiede : I do not have it with me, but yes.

CHAIR: Senator Xenophon, I might assist you. None of your colleagues have indicated any further questions of CASA, which means we would go directly to Airservices Australia. If you want to homogenise your time, we could do that at this point.

Senator XENOPHON: I will, but before I homogenise—or even pasteurise!—my time I would like to ask some more questions about general aviation as well.

CHAIR: Of course. I was just alerting you that you had the opportunity.

Senator XENOPHON: I appreciate that. Thank you. The information I have received just now is that CASA has had some difficulties obtaining this information, because this risk assessment should have been provided to CASA at the first round of changes, and there should have been further risk assessments for any further changes. What is your understanding of that?

Mr Tiede : In practice, the risk assessments are not a single document. There are a number of tranches of work that goes forward in the different areas. It is correct that we made inquiries after some of those pieces of work. They were provided promptly on request.

Senator XENOPHON: Can you say whether CASA has had any difficulties in getting this information or not.

Mr Tiede : Not in my view, no.

Senator XENOPHON: Can you provide details to this committee of the information that has been requested, including any emails, correspondence, notes or other documentation as to the flow of information between CASA and Airservices Australia about this organisational change.

Mr Tiede : We will be able to do that—not right now.

Senator XENOPHON: I realise that. I am asking you to take it on notice.

Mr Carmody : I do not know the volume of correspondence either, but I would like to make the point that these safety matters are evolutionary, in the sense that we would be asking questions and seeking information that might allow us to seek more information. So we might not have asked all the questions we needed to ask on the first round or the second round.

Senator XENOPHON: I am not suggesting that, but I would imagine there will not be thousands of emails. There might be a few dozen, or more than that, but it should not be too onerous a task to give us that.

Mr Carmody : We will put some information together for you, Senator.

Senator XENOPHON: Okay. Was CASA aware of cuts to engineering and technical areas in particular?

Mr Carmody : Andrew, I might leave that for you.

Senator XENOPHON: Yes. Mr Tiede, can you tell us whether CASA were aware of any cuts to engineering and technical areas in particular?

Mr Tiede : Yes, CASA is aware of reductions in engineering, in support services and in other areas of that organisation.

Senator XENOPHON: I put to you that there have been 249 redundancies in ANS, which includes ATC, and 93 of these were in engineering and technical services. In further engineering and IT roles, 56 went from the IT group, which includes air traffic management systems. Does that sound about right?

Mr Tiede : I could not answer that directly. I am sorry. As Mr Carmody has highlighted, we are assessing the safety of the processes remaining.

Senator XENOPHON: What I am concerned about is the magnitude of these changes. Mr Carmody, in complete fairness to him, has only been in this role, in the hot seat as acting CEO, for a week. It is not a reflection on him or, indeed, on you. But would you simply rely on assurances by the board of Airservices Australia, or does that require further digging by CASA given the history of CASA being quite damning of Airservices Australia and the way that they were conducting themselves? They raised some serious safety concerns about CASA in the relatively recent past.

Mr Tiede : That is correct. As I have mentioned, the issues from three years ago were considered in a review late last year, and earlier this year they were tidied up to such an extent that CASA issued a clean part 172 certificate in relation to that previous review. So that review is in large part historic now.

The new program, the Accelerate Air Services program, is subject to inquiry by CASA surveillance officers in the areas where they have their expertise. We have an engineering officer on surveillance of engineering pieces; we have air traffic officers on surveillance of the air traffic pieces; and I have a rescue and firefighting officer on surveillance of the rescue and firefighting pieces as an inquiry into these matters that we are speaking of.

Senator XENOPHON: I will finish on this time of questioning before I go to general aviation. CASA was quite damning of Airservices Australia several years ago. Was it two or three years ago?

Mr Tiede : It was 3½ years ago.

Senator XENOPHON: Not so long ago. CASA raised questions such as: 'If you don’t get your act together we are going to take away your ability to run any traffic control in this country,' which was fairly significant for CASA to even raise that. For the record, you are nodding your head, I think, in broad agreement in relation to that.

Mr Tiede : Yes, indeed.

Senator XENOPHON: Can you confirm that was the case? It was a pretty momentous report by CASA.

Mr Tiede : Yes, that was the case.

Senator XENOPHON: In view of the track record of Airservices Australia back then, with serious concerns raised by CASA in respect of safety, do you think it is not unreasonable in terms of risk assessment to delve into assurances made by the Airservices Australia board, given the relatively recent history between CASA and Airservices Australia?

Mr Tiede : I do think it is reasonable, and we are examining their safety management system processes in that regard.

Mr Carmody : Senator, if I may, as acting CEO, I did seek an assurance from the board—and I would—and I think that would be an expectation. It is a case of trust and verify. I am the regulator: we are not only going to be relying on assurances.

Senator XENOPHON: Perhaps I misunderstood you; it sounds as though you were.

Mr Carmody : We will rely on our own inquiries. As part of our surveillance that is what we do.

Senator XENOPHON: I want to ask some questions about general aviation. I have some graphs to table from the AOPA.

CHAIR: I am not sure we are into general aviation. We have Airservices.

Senator XENOPHON: It relates to the ADS-B.

CHAIR: I have lost my acronym dictionary. Can you explain what that is?

Senator XENOPHON: It is the system required of general aviation in terms of air traffic control, in which CASA has a role as regulator.

CHAIR: Governed by CASA?

Senator XENOPHON: CASA has a role in its implementation.

CHAIR: We are in your hands.

Mr Carmody : CASA has set a mandate of implementation of the ADS-B technology.

Senator XENOPHON: I will table a document from AOPA, the general aviation organisation, and perhaps provide a copy to the witnesses as well. To you, Chair, I seek to table—

CHAIR: Just before you do, I have just started a practice to see that this is appropriate to find in Hansard. The document is five pages with schematics and graphs. The first page is headed 'Pilot numbers' and the last page is 'US general aviation pilot numbers,' for identification in Hansard, so let's table it. Is there any objection from the committee in relation to the tabling? This is always a problem because they have not had the benefit of seeing the document.

Senator XENOPHON: I am sorry for that. I don't mind if it is marked for identification at this stage and the committee can make a subsequent decision

CHAIR: No objection; it is so tabled.

Senator XENOPHON: Mr Carmody, at the previous estimates I had an interchange with your predecessor, Mr Skidmore, about the implementation of ADS-B, about whether there were any plans to delay that, given the concerns that had been raised by the general aviation community. Just a few hours ago, I spoke to Dick Smith, who is a former chairman of CASA, who is currently overseas. Mr Smith said, 'You are unintentionally destroying general aviation in this country with the ADS-B requirement.' I have his permission to give him a direct quote and I do not think that Mr Smith minces his words as a general rule and as a former chairman of CASA. He refers to a $30 million figure for the implementation, which I think CASA has set out as the cost of implementing ADS-B for general aviation. Is that your understanding?

Mr Carmody : I do not understand the figure, but one of my colleagues might know the figure. I would make the point, if I may, that the ADS-B mandate for implementation was announced five years ago, six years ago. This has been a journey of quite a long period of time and a journey in the interests of aviation safety.

CHAIR: Who was the chairman five years ago?

Mr Carmody : I am not even sure that there was a chairman at the time the fitment was announced. Mr Mrdak might know. It was prior to the board.

Mr Mrdak : It was prior to the board being appointed by the current government in 2013.

Mr Carmody : So this process has been underway for a very long time.

Senator XENOPHON: But Mr Smith was not the chairman of CASA at the time. We can make that clear.

Mr Carmody : No. That was well before that that he was chairman of CASA.

Senator XENOPHON: That is right. Just in case—

CHAIR: I just wanted to check.

Senator XENOPHON: It is a very good question, Chair, a very relevant question. Basically, an interchange I had with Mr Skidmore back at a previous estimates indicates that Mr Skidmore felt that there was not a need to revisit it. My question is this: given the graphs I have shown you from AOPA, general aviation pilot numbers have actually gone down 34 per cent from 2000-01 to 2014-15 and are declining fairly sharply; avgas consumption, which is indicative of the use of general aviation, has gone down 35 per cent from 1996 to 2015; initial aircraft registrations actual, after a spike, have been declining for the last couple of years, quite markedly; cancellation of aircraft registrations has seen a 51 per cent increase from 2001 to 2014-15; and, by contrast, US general aviation pilot numbers have seen a four per cent increase. I am not sure what the relevance of that is, because there might be a whole range of other factors in the US. But can I just put to you: has CASA received representations from the general aviation community and representative groups where they are saying: 'We are not against ADS-B per se, but bringing it forward prior to the US having it will mean a massive increase in costs. If it were delayed 12 months after ADS-B was required in the US, it would mean there would be a drop in prices, as with any new technology, and we could transition much better'? Is that something that CASA has considered, given that we are seeing some quite alarming declines in general aviation and its affordability in this country?

Mr Carmody : There are a lot of questions there. I can try and deal with a couple of them. I note the point on declining general aviation pilots, and I have seen the statistics. The statistics do not show the growth in recreational pilots, which is very significant. General aviation is characterised by quite old aircraft. The market has actually changed in the last 10 to 15 years. Recreational pilots flying two-seater aircraft have increased exponentially. So, taking the figures in one hit, it is only looking at one segment of the market. That is one point I would like to make.

In terms of the mandates for fitment of ADS-B, there are many, many operators over the last five years—individuals and organisations—that have made a commitment to fit ADS-B. They have fitted it on the basis of the mandate that is in place and the fact that the mandate is coming in. There are a number of operators who would therefore not thank me and would come back at us as a regulator to say, 'You are making it less safe by deferring fitment, when we have already made our investment in accordance with your direction.' We have made very clear directions for the mandate up until 2017. They have invested very significantly, in many cases, in this. So that is a second aspect.

The third aspect, if I may say, is that there is nothing to suggest that the prices will decrease as fitment increases in the United States and elsewhere. In fact, there might be more competition for equipment, and the prices may not decrease. It may be more difficult to get equipment closer to the time. The view from one group of people is that it will get cheaper if we wait until afterwards. The challenge for us is that ADS-B is a safer technology, because it indicates where every aircraft is. That is the safety case we are working towards. My final point on the United States—

Senator XENOPHON: That is not all aircraft and, with apologies, Senator Sterle, ADS-B stands for—

Mr Carmody : Okay, it is not all.

Senator XENOPHON: Automatic Dependent Surveillance-broadcast.

CHAIR: Senator Xenophon, I do not mean to interrupt, but you are coming to the end.

Senator XENOPHON: I am. I am very close. Can I just say that if aircraft fly below cloud cover, visually—if aircraft do not have ADS-B, they have to fly visually—correct?

Mr Carmody : Yes, they have to fly visually. That is correct.

Senator XENOPHON: The point that Dick Smith has made to me just again today is that that poses a risk to pilots. There has never been a case of a mid-air collision in this country involving aircraft in clouds—is that right?

Mr Carmody : I did see a quote to that effect. I assume it is correct; I have heard that.

Senator XENOPHON: He has expressed a concern previously and again today that requiring pilots who cannot afford to install ADS-B to fly visually below clouds itself is problematic from a safety point of view. Is that something you have assessed?

Mr Carmody : Not to my knowledge. I can take that on notice and see whether we have. I do not know the answer to that, I am sorry.

Senator XENOPHON: Could you take it on notice. Is there any possibility—and I emphasise the word 'possibility'—that, given the alarming numbers in respect to general aviation in this country, there may be consideration on CASA's part to consider a stretching out of the date for the implementation of ADS-B?

Mr Carmody : There are no plans at this stage to delay the implementation, but I have only been in place for a week. I would like to look at the possibilities. At this stage there are none, but I will see.

Senator XENOPHON: My final question is a follow-up. The base of your assertion is that it might be more expensive in a few years time, and that did not work for flat screen TVs or other technology.

Mr Carmody : Different technology. But that is just an assertion in the same way as it is an assertion that it will get cheaper, if I may, by AOPA.

Senator XENOPHON: And that generally happens with new technology?

Mr Carmody : It might.

Senator XENOPHON: Could you get back to me on that. Thank you, Chair, for your patience.

CHAIR: I have received advice that we are completed with CASA—although, could I ask Mr Carmody for an indulgence: could you ask your CASA people to wait for 10 or 15 minutes before they go? We have a colleague, an active committee member, who would like to try and have an opportunity to ask some questions. If I do not come back to you, say, by ten minutes to, then we will abandon that and they are welcome to leave.

Mr Carmody : Thank you.

CHAIR: Thank you to you and your staff and, again, would you extend to them our apologies for having gone over the time limit there.