Ministerial Statement: The Australian Government's Aviation Safety Regulation Review

Speech

WTS013/2014

03 June 2014

Parliament House, Canberra

Madam Speaker, on 14 November last year I advised the House that the Government had commissioned an independent review of Australia's system of aviation safety regulation, to be undertaken by a panel of three eminent and experienced members of the international aviation community. I can now advise the House that I have received the review Report from panel chairman, Mr David Forsyth.

The Report confirms that Australia has an excellent safety record and an advanced aviation regulatory system. It also recognises that there are opportunities for the system to be improved to ensure Australia remains a global aviation leader. The review makes 37 recommendations for the Government to consider which collectively would represent the biggest reform in aviation regulation in decades.

The review panel has engaged widely with the industry, the aviation agencies and other stakeholders. Some 269 written submissions were received. The panel also considered international trends in the aviation industry and emerging global practices in aviation safety regulation.

The role of the regulator is pivotal in the safety system, and many of the recommendations relate to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority. They span issues such as the relationship between the regulator and operators, mechanisms for a more collaborative approach to regulatory oversight, the culture and skills required and the role of the board.

Other recommendations are aimed at strengthening the overall system and the arrangements for coordination across the work of the aviation agencies. These cover issues such as sharing of safety data and strategic planning through Australia's State Safety Program.

In relation to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the Report recommends that an additional commissioner be appointed with operational aviation experience.

An important set of recommendations relate to the finalisation of the longstanding Regulatory Reform Program and guidance on principles for developing future regulatory change proposals. The Report highlights the opportunity to improve the approach to regulatory reform, to reduce the volume and improve the clarity of aviation safety regulations.

Madam Speaker it is vital that Australia fosters a dynamic aviation sector. Aviation is an essential element in a modern economy. Given the speed with which the global aviation industry is changing and growing, we need to ensure that our regulatory system adapts to keep pace with the industry.

Safety will always remain the Government's highest priority.

The Government will commence consideration of the Report in detail without delay. The Report will be open for public comment for the next month. Written submissions received by the Review will be made public over the coming days except for those provided in confidence and a number of others about which the Government is seeking legal advice.

I will advise the House of a comprehensive response to the recommendations as soon as possible.  

In developing the response, we will be looking to ensure that our safety regulatory system is as good as it can be to support aviation into the future. We will be looking to ensure clear strategic direction and coordination, to support contemporary approaches consistent with global best practice, and to foster effective industry engagement, in particular in regulatory development.

Consistent with the Government's broader agenda in deregulation, we will be looking for ways to reduce regulatory costs on the industry without reducing safety.

The Government will also take account of the recommendations as we approach a number of important appointments in the aviation agencies. This includes the appointment of two extra members to the CASA board to bolster the aviation experience, in line with a Coalition election commitment. I also expect that the CASA board will give full regard to the Report in its current process for selection of the next Director of Aviation Safety.

Madam Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the review panel. Mr David Forsyth AM, the Chairman of the panel, is the former chair of Safeskies Australia and of the Airservices Australia board and has brought over 30 years of experience in the Australian aviation sector to the review. He was joined on the panel by Mr Don Spruston, former Director-General of Civil Aviation at Transport Canada and former Director-General of the International Business Aviation Council, and Mr Roger Whitefield, former Head of Safety at British Airways, former safety adviser to Qantas and former United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority board member. The panel was assisted by Mr Philip Reiss, former President of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Australia on issues relating to the general aviation sector and regional operators.

I would like to recognise the substantial contribution by aviation industry participants to the review. I would welcome industry views on the Report and on the best options for ensuring effective processes for representation in collaborative processes.

The full Report is now available on the Department's website.

Madam Speaker, the independent review of Aviation Safety Regulation was a commitment by the Coalition in the 2013 federal election. I welcome the panel's Report as the first step towards a stronger and more harmonious aviation industry.