• Queensland's Senator Susan McDonald is chair of the RRAT inquiry into general aviation. (office of Senator McDonald)
    Queensland's Senator Susan McDonald is chair of the RRAT inquiry into general aviation. (office of Senator McDonald)

The Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport (RRAT) inquiry into the state of general aviation in Australia will go ahead despite being frustrated by a string of COVID lockdowns.

A lack of progress in the inquiry, which is bound to issue a final report in December this year, has many in the GA community believing the inquiry will produce nothing of any substance.

Committee chair Senator Susan McDonald from Queensland told Australian Flying this week that she shared the concerns but the inquiry would go ahead.

"I am equally frustrated at the lockdowns, which unfortunately have disrupted so many senate inquiries," she said.

"The aviation inquiry hearings will still go ahead but it’s likely many witnesses will have to give evidence via video conferencing. I realise this is not ideal, but it’s important that we still hear evidence and pursue the aims of this inquiry."

At this stage there are eight proposed hearing dates scheduled, but are subject to the rapidly-changing COVID situation around the country. The hearing program is:

  • Wagga Wagga  6 September  
  • Alice Springs    7 September  
  • Darwin              8 September
  • Rockhampton  16 September
  • Toowoomba     17 September
  • Hobart             29 September
  • Sydney            30 September  
  • Brisbane          1 October

Senator McDonald also said she was concerned about the low number of submissions from the GA community. At the time of writing, only 54 submissions had been lodged. The Aviation Safety Regulation Review (ASRR) conducted in 2014 attracted 269 submissions.

"I have to say I’m disappointed at the lack of submissions from aviators regarding their concerns," she said. "I understand the reluctance of many to give public evidence but I can assure them they will be doing it in a neutral environment.

"It’s crucial that we get as many points of view as possible to ensure we have a successful and thriving aviation industry now and into the future."

"I encourage anyone with an interest to lodge a submission."

Submissions can be lodged on the RRAT inquiry website.

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