Progress with implementing the Australian Government's Response to the Aviation Safety Regulation Review Report
02 December 2015
Parliament House, Canberra
Mr Speaker, in December last year I tabled the Government's response to the independent review of Australia's aviation safety regulatory system in Parliament.
The Government commissioned the Aviation Safety Regulation Review to examine our aviation safety regulatory system.
The review was conducted by an independent panel of international aviation experts led by Mr David Forsyth, formerly a senior manager with Qantas and Chair of Airservices Australia.
The Review Report acknowledged Australia's excellent aviation safety record but found there were opportunities for improvements to ensure Australia remains a leading aviation State.
The Report also made 37 recommendations, many relating to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), while others had implications for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), Airservices Australia (Airservices), my Department and the Department of Defence.
Australia has worked hard to develop one of the most respected aviation safety systems globally.
However, given the speed with which the international and domestic aviation industry is changing, we need to look for continuous improvement in our aviation safety regulatory system to reflect the growing diversity of our aviation industry.
The Australian Government agreed to 32 of the Report's recommendations and agreed to undertake further examination of four others.
The recommendations cover a number of key areas including CASA's regulatory philosophy, processes and relationship with industry, and a future regulatory framework and reform programme.
Enhancements to governance arrangements, improvements to interactions between key agencies and a stronger policy role for my Department were also recommended and agreed to by the Government.
Earlier this year I issued Australia's three key aviation agencies—CASA, Airservices and the ATSB—with new Statements of Expectations.
These statements outline in a clear and public way the Government's expectations of these agencies, including the timely implementation of the Government's response to the Review Report.
I can advise the House that implementation of the Government's response is well underway.
CASA and ATSB Governance
The Government supported the ASRR Report recommendations regarding Board members possessing a range of appropriate skills and backgrounds to strengthen CASA's vital role as Australia's independent aviation safety regulator.
Accordingly, the Government has appointed a completely new CASA Board.
Mr Jeff Boyd has been appointed as the new Chairman, and new members Mr Ian Smith, Ms Anita Taylor, Mr Murray Warfield and Ms Philippa Stone bring a diversity of valuable knowledge, including experience gained in different parts of the Australian aviation industry.
These appointments bring pertinent technical, operational and managerial experience to help the Board play a more active role in setting and steering CASA's strategic direction.
The Government also welcomed the appointment of Air Vice Marshal (Retired) Mark Skidmore AM who commenced as Director of Aviation Safety on 1 January 2015.
The Report also recommended the appointment of an additional ATSB Commissioner, with aviation experience.
Mr Chris Manning who commenced as Commissioner in March 2015, has extensive aviation operational and safety management experience, particularly in his former positions as Qantas Chief Pilot and Group General Manager of Flight Operations.
In its role as the aviation safety regulator, it is essential that CASA has effective and ongoing engagement and communication with the industry, both at a strategic and working level.
The Aviation Safety Regulation Review recommended the creation of an “effective collaborative relationship [between CASA and the industry] based on a foundation of mutual understanding and respect”.
To assist with such a relationship, CASA has recently released its statement of Regulatory Philosophy which sets out the principles that will guide and direct CASA's approach to the performance of its regulatory functions and exercise of its regulatory powers.
It is expected that CASA's review of its Capability Framework and amendments to its Enforcement Manual to reflect this new Regulatory Philosophy and use of discretion procedure will also be finalised before the end of the financial year.
Whilst it is expected that most of the updated CASA documentation required to implement the Government's response will be completed this financial year, the real test of the effectiveness of implementation will be the adoption of these approaches by CASA staff over the coming months and years.
The CASA Board has confirmed the adoption of the three tier approach to the regulatory framework and there has been significant progress with the outstanding parts of the regulatory reform programme supported by industry.
While the Government is keen to see the completion of the drafting of the remaining parts of the programme as soon as possible, the Government recognises that the finalisation of the regulations is subject to ongoing consultation between CASA and industry.
Therefore, the timing of the completion and implementation of specific regulatory changes will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Industry must also play its part by working cooperatively and constructively with Government agencies to take forward regulatory reform.
I welcome the initiative by CASA's Director of Aviation Safety, Mark Skidmore, to encourage industry to identify specific areas where current regulatory practices and procedures could be improved or replaced.
In this regard, CASA has recently established a special taskforce that will work with an industry advisory panel made up of people representing a wide range of sectors across the aviation community, to address outstanding issues with the flight crew licensing suite of regulations.
CASA has also reviewed and updated the terms of reference and reporting arrangements for its Industry Complaints Commissioner, including reporting arrangements to improve it's independence and effectiveness.
Policy and Coordination Role of the Department
The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development chairs the Aviation Policy Group (APG) and is leading work between agencies to ensure coordinated action on a number of key aviation safety policy issues, including the State Safety Programme (SSP).
My Department will be releasing this week a draft revised State Safety Programme for industry and public consultation.
In addition, my Department in close consultation with other aviation agencies, will be releasing policy papers before the end of the year for public and industry comment on:
- aviation rescue and fire fighting services regulatory policy; and
- Australia's proposed approach to the implementation of Barometric Vertical Navigation (Baro VNAV) procedures to improve aviation safety.
Mr Speaker, the Australian Government is committed to ensuring that Australia continues to have one of the most respected aviation safety systems in the world.
Whilst significant progress has been made in developing policies, procedures, and systems to support aviation safety regulatory reform, it will take time for these to be implemented and time for a change in the culture within the regulator and in the aviation industry more broadly, to take effect.
The success of such reform will also depend on the active engagement and contribution of the aviation industry.
I encourage industry to play a constructive role in the change process.
Mr Speaker, the Government will continue to work with our aviation agencies and industry to achieve continuous improvement in our aviation safety system.