• The Deputy Prime Minister speaks in the House of Representatives this morning. (still from APH live feed)
    The Deputy Prime Minister speaks in the House of Representatives this morning. (still from APH live feed)

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael McCormack today introduced a bill to the House of Representatives in Canberra proposing to amend the Civil Aviation Act 1988.

The bill seeks to amend the Act to take into account the cost of regulation, whilst maintaining the primacy of safety.

In his speech, McCormack said that the govenment was aware of the cost impact of safety regulation on the industry and that the bill would incorporate in to the Act some provisions of the Statement of Expectations issued to CASA from the Department of Infrastructure and Transport.

He also said that safety would remain the absolute priority.

"The Australian government is very conscious of the challenges faced by small business in Australia and the need to remove unnecessary costs and regulatory burden," the minister told a sparsely-populated House of Representatives.

"We are committed to aviation safety being the most important consideration in safety regulation and recognise that CASA must be allowed to ensure aviation in Australia is safe and reliable.

"Costs and risks are both carefully weighed by CASA when it develops aviation safety standards. The requirements behind this process are spelt out in the government’s Statement of Expectations issued to the CASA board.

"Today I introduce into the Parliament a Bill that incorporates those guiding principles from the government’s Statement of Expectations into the Civil Aviation Act 1988."

The movement to amend the Act began in Wagga Wagga last year by aviation advocate Dick Smith, and gained momentum in July via the Australian General Aviation Alliance (AGAA) summit in the same city. Both the Deputy Prime Minister and the Shadow Minister for Transport Anthony Albanese are on the record as supporting the amendments.

"The Civil Aviation Safety Amendment Bill ... is in direct response to the concerns raised by the general aviation industry," McCormack added.

"The bill will allow the government to ensure CASA continues to consider the economic and cost impact on individuals, businesses and the community. It will take into account the differing risks posed by those sectors when developing and promulgating legislative aviation safety standards."

Among the reasons for introducing the bill, the minister cited the need for CASA to "keep pace" with changes in the industry and said that a strong aviation industry requires "continuous improvement" from the regulator.

"It is important we continue to support an aviation industry that is dynamic and sustainable, with a regulatory system that is responsive and proportionate to risks," he concluded. "The government seeks a level of regulation that maintains the safety of the system without unreasonably restricting innovation and growth."

The bill was adjourned immediately to be made an order of business for debate at the next sitting session, which the current calendar has as 2 April, the same day as the Federal Budget is due to be delivered.

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