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Airservices Australia Review of the National Airspace System.

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Martin Ferguson MP

Shadow Minister for Urban and Regional Development Shadow Minister for Transport and Infrastructure

18 February 2004


Topic: Airservices Australia Review of the National Airspace System

FERGUSON: In Question Time yesterday the Minister for Transport John Anderson gave the Australian public a very firm undertaking that the airspace system is safe and reliable.

Contrary to the Minister’s view, Airservices Australia last night told Senate Estimates that there are fundamental flaws in the safety of the Australian aviation system at the moment.

Airservices also indicated that in originally approving the National Airspace System it took the advice of organisations such as CASA and the Minister’s own special advisory group that formulated the system and, in essence, failed to do a comprehensive safety analysis of the new airspace system.

Airservices also announced that it is doing a complete overhaul… [tape break]

FERGUSON: I’m calling on the Minister John Anderson to support the review by Airservices Australia, to accept that organisations such as the special airspace group that was personally selected by him in association with CASA may have been wrong and to, in essence, give a full and comprehensive statement to the Australian public about the status of the airspace system in Australia and where we are going.

JOURNALIST: Should heads roll over this whole incident considering that the system hasn’t worked as was planned?

FERGUSON: I’m starting to wonder what the Minister for Transport John Anderson has been doing. In Question Time yesterday the Minister again said that the National Airspace System is safe.

Only a matter of a couple of hours later Airservices Australia, the organisation vested with the responsibility of checking the safety of the system admitted that it may have got it wrong and that it was doing a full and comprehensive review of air safety in Australia.

It also made it clear that given the status of the system today and issues of risk, there a re serious question marks about making any changes, even if there are weaknesses in the system going backwards at the moment, because its almost as if we have a dog’s breakfast of an air safety system in Australia at the moment, what we’ve got to work out how to make safe yet again.

The issue rests squarely on the desk of the Minister for Transport John Anderson. He drove this with the support of his special mate Dick Smith. So far as I’m concerned, he should tell the Australian public what’s been going on with air safety in Australia.

JOURNALIST: How could they have got it so wrong? I mean what were their priorities when they were changing the system?

FERGUSON: Well, I actually think there are serious questions about what was going on with respect to the changes in the National Airspace System in Australia.

Only a matter of years ago, following a change to the system, it was ruled out. All of a sudden after the last election it was back on the agenda. And I don’t forget that in the lead up to the last election there was a serious campaign by Dick Smith with threats of running either himself, or a candidate he supported financially, running in the seat of Gwydir against the Minister John Anderson.

Now what we’ve got is a dog’s breakfast of an air safety system in Australia which raises questions about the risk that the travelling public is exposed to in the air at this point in time.

Now I would just simply want to say on behalf of the travelling public thank you to Airservices Australia for having, I suppose, the courage to stand up last night and say that perhaps it’s got it wrong.