Committees: Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee - Report

17 October 2019

Senator Patrick: 

I rise to take note of the report. I wish to congratulate Senators McDonald, Hughes and Brockman for their statements. Senator McDonald, as the chair of the committee, clearly articulated how the committee felt in relation to the ATSB report and, indeed, the instrument. In her speech she talked of an instrument that imposes maintenance requirements that are unnecessary and of how these are slowly crippling our aviation industry. Senator McDonald, with great courage, crossed the floor this afternoon to support the disallowance. Her standing has certainly gone up significantly in my mind. I often criticise but I'm never afraid to talk about it when I think people have stood up and said something really sensible. I'm not a party to government in any way, shape or form; I just call it as it is.

Moving to Senator Hughes: she spoke from the heart. She's someone who has used Angel Flight. She has talked to me privately and said—and I hope she doesn't mind that I share this—it was a great saviour for her. I know that she's so very grateful for the service that Angel Flight provides. I was with her up in Papua New Guinea, with Save the Children, and she spent some amount of time talking about what they did for her family.

Senator Brockman spoke very sensibly on his analysis of the ATSB report. Very correctly, he indicated that there were many sensible things in the regulation. Indeed, I wasn't opposing everything that was in the regulation. I was basically very concerned about the mentoring arrangements, although I accept what has been said in the chamber tonight, which is that that may well be adjusted. But, certainly, in relation to maintenance, I do have a problem. He's still monotone—but very sensible!—and I thank him for his contribution in relation to the report.

The role of senators is one of leadership; and we shouldn't just accept that, because CASA say something, we need to back CASA. We need to look at things that CASA present to this chamber and analyse them. We need to look at them and apply judgement on what it is that they have to say. We shouldn't simply tick things because CASA say, 'This is the case,' and because we need to support CASA as people have to have confidence in CASA. We should call them out when things are wrong. In that respect, the government—and I'm referring not to the senators who have spoken tonight but the government—has been weak. Indeed, I'm going to be critical of the opposition. I think the opposition is weak. I exclude Senator Sterle, who I note abstained from the vote. He abstained in clear view of everyone. It is not acceptable for us to simply tick and flick things that come through this place, certainly when they are going to have a very detrimental effect on a most valuable service to regional Australia.

It is clear, there is no question, it is undisputed, it is undoubtable that CASA has erred in respect of this particular instrument. I might say, and I say this in a considered manner, that Mr Carmody has exercised poor judgement, and it's my view that, in the context of all of the regulation that has been imposed upon CASA and in respect of this fundamentally flawed instrument—and, to tap into what Senator Brockman said, there are only certain aspects of this instrument that are flawed, particularly with respect to maintenance—his tenure at the head of CASA must be reconsidered.

Question agreed to.

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