Mar 11, 2009

Parliament approves new aviation safety measures

Parliament approves new aviation safety measures

MEDIA RELEASE

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

March 11 2009

Parliament tonight passed new measures that will strengthen Australia’s aviation safety agencies and their oversight of the airlines: the Civil Aviation Amendment Bill and Transport Safety Investigation Amendment Bill.

I welcome the passage of the Bills as part of the Government’s reform and strengthening of aviation safety.

These pieces of legislation will put in place new governance arrangements for both the Civil Aviation Safety Agency (CASA) and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) from 1 July, honouring a pledge I made when releasing the Governments Aviation Green Paper late last year.

Passage of these Bills demonstrates decisive action by the Rudd Labor Government to preserve public confidence in the safety and reliability of air travel. While Australia has an enviable safety record, we cannot take past success for granted.

Civil Aviation Amendment Bill

The Bill creates a small, expert Board of five members for CASA – Australia’s independent aviation safety regulator. The new Board will include CASA’s Director of Aviation Safety and provide high-level direction to the organisation’s regulatory and safety oversight role.

The Government will finalise the Board’s membership in coming months.

The legislation also:

  • improves CASA’s ability to oversight foreign carriers flying into Australia;
  • strengthens the provisions for preventing operators from continuing to operate services where CASA considers it unsafe for them to continue; and
  • closes a gap in the current legislation by introducing an additional offence of negligently carrying or consigning dangerous goods on an aircraft.

Transport Safety Investigation Amendment Bill

The Bill reinforces the independence of the ATSB by establishing it as a separate statutory agency with a full-time Chief Commissioner and two part-time Commissioners.

Under the changes, the ATSB will have operational independence from the Infrastructure Department with respect to the exercise of its investigation powers and administration of its resources.

ATSB will also now have new powers to compel agencies and operators within the aviation industry to respond to its formal recommendations within 90 days, giving the public greater confidence that the lessons from past accidents will be acted upon in a timely manner.