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Air Services Amendment Bill 2018

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2016-2017-2018

 

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

 

SENATE

 

 

 

 

 

AIR SERVICES AMENDMENT BILL 2018

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

and

STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of

Senator Janet Rice)



AIR SERVICES AMENDMENT BILL 2018

 

OUTLINE

 

The Air Services Amendment Bill 2018 is being introduced to create greater protections for communities affected by aircraft noise.

 

Communities affected by aircraft noise or changed flight paths above residential areas currently enjoy limited recourse beyond seeking voluntary agreements with aircraft operators known as ‘Fly Neighbourly Agreements’. Legislation is unclear as to the accountability of government agencies to respond to resident concerns.

 

This bill will set clear requirements for consultation and reporting on the part of Airservices Australia (AA). The bill will require AA to minimise impact of aircraft operations on the human and natural environment, community amenity and residential areas. The bill will also ensure that communities affected by aircraft noise are adequately consulted and have stronger representation in these consultations. It will do this by establishing an independent Aircraft Noise Ombudsman and an independent Community Aviation Advocate.

 

Due to the fact that, under the current legislation, Airservices Australia is not responsible for carrying out activities to protect community amenity and residential areas from the effects of aircraft noise, it does not control airspace at low altitudes over many residential areas. As such, in some residential areas, AA is unable to control the impact of low-flying small aircraf t. I n inner Melbourne, there are now specific and acute circumstances of high intensity flights of small aircraft in uncontrolled airspac e. T he bill will require Airservices Australia to prepare a plan for management of flight paths and air space in central Melbourne, including by prohibit ing flights of helicopters and fixed wing aircraft below 2,000m above sea level within 5km of central Melbourne, with clear exemptions in the public interest for emergency services, hospitals, defence, and other like aircraft.

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT

 

The bill will have no financial impact.

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES

 

Clause 1 - Short title

 

Clause 1 provides for the short title of the Act to be the Air Services Amendment Act 2018 .

 

Clause 2 - Commencement

 

Provides for the commencement of the Act to be on the day it receives the Royal Assent.

 

Clause 3 - Schedules

 

Clause 3 gives effect to the Schedules. It provides that legislation that is specified in a Schedule to this Act is amended or repealed as set out in the applicable items in the Schedule concerned, and any other item in a Schedule to this Act has effect according to its terms.

 

Schedule 1 - Amendments

 

Item 1

 

Item 1 inserts a definition of the Aircraft Noice Ombudsman, created under proposed Section 73A of the Air Services Act 1995 .

 

Items 2 and 3

 

Amend paragraph 8(1)(d) and subsection 9(2) of the Air Services Act 1995 to require Airservices Australia to carry out activities to protect the human and natural environment, community amenity and residential areas from the effects of the operation and use of aircraft, and associated effects. Under current legislation, AA carries out activities to protect only the environment, but is unable to manage aircraft in relation to community amenity or residential areas. As a result, AA is not required to manage aircraft flying at low heights over residential areas, including in areas distant from airports that experience frequent flights.

 

Item 4

 

Replaces section 10 of the Air Services Act 1995 with new proposed sections 10AA, 10A, 10B, 10C.

 

Section 10AA defines the responsibilities of Airservices Australia when consulting with the community and other relevant bodies. These include:

-           AA must inform parties of how they can make complaints

-           AA must establish community consultation groups representing communities affected by aircraft noise

-           AA must consult with community consultation groups about all significant changes to flight plan routes, and must take such steps as it considers appropriate if detrimental impacts are identified

-           AA must publish details of consultation

Proposed Section 10A of the Air Services Act 1995 strengthens representation for community groups in consultation over flight paths. It requires AA to take certain actions when proposing a new flight path that would be likely to impact on the human or natural environment, community amenity or residential areas. AA would be required to:

-           arrange for community consultation

-           Advise the Minister responsible for the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 of the consultations and request that the Minister appoint a Community Aviation Advocate to represent the affected parts of the community

Proposed Section 10B of the Air Services Act 1995 relates to the specific circumstances of flight paths over Melbourne, where a large number of small aircraft fly at low altitude over residential areas in airspace that is not currently controlled by AA. It requires AA to give effect to a plan following community consultation that would prohibit helicopters and fixed wing aircraft flying below 2,000m above sea level, with exemptions for emergency services aircraft, defence aircraft, aircraft flying to and from hospitals and other aircraft that it is in the public interest to exempt.

 

Proposed Section 10C of the Air Services Act 1995 allows a person affected by aircraft noise because of a flight path to request the review of any new or changed flight paths made on or after 1 January 2012 under the consultation conditions laid out in the above sections.

 

Item 5

 

Inserts paragraph 13(ab) of the Air Services Act 1995 , which requires AA to consider the need to minimise the impact of aircraft operations on the human and natural environment, community amenity and residential areas when preparing corporate plans.

 

In this bill, h uman env ironment include s the natural and physical environment and the relationship of people with that environment. When an environmental impact statement is prepared and economic or social and natural or physical environmental effects are interrelated, the environmental impact statements ought consider all of these effects on the human environment . Effects include:

(a) Direct effects, which are caused by the action and occur at the same time and place.

(b) Indirect effects, which are caused by the action and are later in time or farther removed in distance, but are still reasonably foreseeable. Indirect effects may include growth inducing effects and other effects related to induced changes in the pattern of land use, population density or growth rate, and related effects on air and water and other natural systems, including ecosystems.

 

Effects includes ecological (such as the effects on natural resources and on the components, structures, and functioning of affected ecosystems), aesthetic, historic, cultural, economic, social, noise, public safety or health, whether direct, indirect, or cumulative. Effects may also include those resulting from actions which may have both beneficial and detrimental effects, even if on balance the agency believes that the effect will be beneficial.

It is not intended that this Bill alter the meaning of human environment, natural environment or physical environment that may occur in any other legislation.

 

Items 6 and 7

 

Replaces paragraph 22(1)(d) and inserts subsection 22(6) in the Air Services Act 1995 to expand the AA Board by up to 2 members and require that it include an expert in environmental management and a representative of a community group affected by aircraft noise.

 

 

Item 8

 

Item 8 inserts Part 5A into the Air Services Act 1995 and provides for the creation and operations of the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman.

 

The Ombudsman is to be independent of AA. It is to review the handling of complaints and enquiries; report to relevant agencies or Ministers; monitor and report on the effectiveness of community consultation and other matters relating to aircraft noise; and make recommendations.

The Ombudsman is to be appointed for a specified period, no longer than 5 years. This Item provides for the terms and conditions of that appointment and for the provision of staff and consultants as necessary to assist the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman may carry out inquiries and research on their own initiative, or by referral from the Minister for inquiry or advice.

 

Item 9

 

Inserts section 74A of the Air Services Act 1995 , which creates a requirement that, in its annual report, the AA reports comprehensively on complaints made regarding its conduct, on its handling of those complaints, and on any information transferred between AA and the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman.

 

 

Item 10

 

Item 10 amends the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) by inserting section 160A, which requires the responsible minister to appoint an independent Community Aviation Advocate to represent communities affected by aircraft noise in consultation processes established through the proposed amendments to the Air Services Act 1995 . The Advocate’s role is to assist, inform, and advocate on behalf of the parts of the community affected by proposed changes to flight paths. As it is appointed by the Minister responsible for the EPBC Act, the Advocate will be independent of AA and other aviation interests.

 

STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

 

Air Services Amendment Bill 2018

 

This bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

 

Overview of the bill

 

The Air Services Amendment Bill 2018 is being introduced to create greater protections for communities affected by aircraft noise.

 

Communities affected by aircraft noise or changed flight paths above residential areas currently enjoy limited recourse beyond seeking voluntary agreements with aircraft operators known as ‘Fly Neighbourly Agreements’. Legislation is unclear as to the accountability of government agencies to respond to resident concerns.

 

This bill will set clear requirements for consultation and reporting on the part of Airservices Australia. The bill will require AA to minimise impact of aircraft operations on the human and natural environment, community amenity and residential areas. The bill will also ensure that communities affected by aircraft noise are adequately consulted and have stronger representation in these consultations. It will do this by establishing an independent Aircraft Noise Ombudsman and an independent Community Aviation Advocate.

 

Because under the Air Services Act 1995, Airservices Australia currently is not responsible for carrying out activities to protect community amenity and residential areas from the effects of aircraft noise, it does not control airspace at low altitudes over many residential areas. As such, in some residential areas, AA is unable to control the impact of low-flying small aircraf t. I n inner Melbourne, there are now specific and acute circumstances of high intensity flights of small aircraft in uncontrolled airspac e. T he bill will require Airservices Australia to prepare a plan for management of flight paths and air space in central Melbourne, including by prohibit ing flights of helicopters and fixed wing aircraft below 2,000m above sea level within 5km of central Melbourne, with clear exemptions in the public interest for emergency services, hospitals, defence, and other like aircraft.

 

Human rights implications

 

This bill does not engage any of the applicable rights or freedoms.

 

Conclusion

 

This bill is compatible with human rights because it does not raise any human rights issues.

 

Senator Janet Rice