|Support safer aviation, shipping and land transport services.
(Contributing divisions: Australian Transport Safety Bureau, Aviation and Airports Policy, Transport and Infrastructure Policy and Transport Regulation)
Transport safety legislation and investigations
The introduction of the Transport Safety Investigation (TSI) Act 2003 and associated regulations on 1 July 2003 is a major achievement for transport safety investigations.
With the introduction of the legislation the ATSB is able to undertake rail investigations on the defined interstate rail network and work within an updated legislative framework for aviation and marine investigations.
Other key transport safety achievements of the ATSB in 2002-03 include:
- Australian Transport Council (ATC) endorsement of the second National Road Safety Strategy Action Plan, for 2003 and 2004. (This is further reported under key strategy: Progress implementation of the Commonwealth's responsibilities under the National Road Safety Strategy and Action Plan on p. 44).
- Release of the high profile air safety investigation reports into Ansett 767 aircraft maintenance, the Mount Newman WA Police Airwing accident, and a microburst windshear serious 737 incident near Brisbane.
- Release of prominent marine and rail reports including the Nego Kim marine explosion accident and the Salisbury SA rail level crossing accident and Epping Victoria rail collision accident.
- Release of major road safety research reports on community attitudes to speeding and the potential cost effectiveness of seat belt reminder systems, and important statistical reports on the Christmas holiday road toll.
Airservices Australia-future governance
The government announced its aviation reform programme in February 2002, comprising:
- corporatisation of Airservices Australia
- future responsibility for aerodrome rescue and firefighting services (ARFFS), terminal navigation, and tower ATC services
- establishment of an air standards task force to complete the reform of the aviation regulations
- a review of the structure and reporting arrangements for CASA
- national airspace reform.
The department is leading a cooperative approach between relevant departments to determine how Airservices Australia is to be corporatised, and the regulatory environment in which Airservices Australia will operate.
Corporatisation and the transfer of Airservices regulatory functions is consistent with the 1995 Competition Principles Agreement, which committed all Australian governments to reviewing the structure of government monopolies with a view to introducing competition where possible.
National airspace reform
On 13 May 2002, the government agreed to the Aviation Reform Group's (ARG) recommendation that the National Airspace System (NAS) be the preferred model for airspace reform in Australia and that the ARG establish an implementation group to assist it in implementing NAS.
The implementation of NAS will occur in three stages. Stage 1 was completed on 20 March 2003. The Budget has allocated $2.1 million to the department, which will be used to fund the implementation of NAS, including communication and education programmes critical to the success of NAS.
Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) reform
The Civil Aviation Amendment Bill 2003 was introduced into the House of Representatives on 27 March 2003. In terms of the governance arrangements:
- The Bill proposes the abolition of the CASA Board and retention of CASA as a statutory authority, thereby giving the minister the necessary direct authority over CASA's policy directions and priorities, performance standards, reporting and consultation processes.
- The Director of Aviation Safety will become the chief executive officer and will have dual responsibility for managing CASA's governance and for its safety regulatory functions.
The Bill also introduces five new enforcement measures that strike the appropriate balance between enhancing natural justice and maintaining CASA's powers to take action on safety breaches, namely:
- Federal Court adjudication of CASA's decision to immediately suspend an authorisation in cases where it has reasonable grounds to believe there is a serious and imminent risk to air safety.
- An automatic stay of up to 90 days of CASA's decisions to suspend, vary or cancel a civil aviation authorisation in cases which do not involve a serious and imminent risk to air safety.
- A scheme linking demerit points to infringement notices, similar to the NSW demerit point system for motor vehicle drivers' licences.
- Protection from administrative action where an authorisation holder voluntarily self-reports a breach of the regulations, based on the United States system administered by the National Aeronautical and Space Administration on behalf of the Federal Aviation Administration.
- A scheme of enforceable voluntary undertakings that will allow CASA to accept a written undertaking from an authorisation holder in relation to compliance with civil aviation safety legislation.
It is anticipated that the Bill will be passed during the Winter 2003 sittings of parliament.
Other aviation reforms
The minister announced his intention to establish an Airspace Authority to take over regulatory functions from a corporatised Airservices Australia.
Mutual Recognition of Aviation Safety Related Certification between Australia and New Zealand is being formalised through the proposed Civil Aviation Legislation Amendment (Mutual Recognition with New Zealand and Other Matters) Bill 2003. Subject to parliamentary approval, this means that aviation safety certificates issued to eligible aviation organisations in one country will be recognised for use in the other.