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Old 11th May 2022, 10:14
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Clinton McKenzie
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Canberra ACT Australia
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AOTW: Imagine the State X highway patrol was given the function of setting clear and concise road transport safety standards and given the power to set the speed limit. A section of the legislation creating this hypothetical highway patrol says that in performing its functions and exercising its powers: “The safety of road transport is the most important consideration.”

What would you expect to happen to speed limits?

The legislature in this hypothetical wakes up one day and decides it is concerned that ever-reducing speed limits are having an effect that is disproportionate to the reduction in the road toll. As a solution, the legislature changes the State X highway patrol Act so that the economic consequences of the transport safety standards set by the highway patrol, and the speed limits it sets, are a relevant consideration. But the safety of road transport remains the most important consideration.

What do you really believe the State X highway patrol will do differently? How is it that you think the State X highway patrol will measure the economic consequences of the reduced speed limits it sets and then decide whether those consequences are or are not worth paying in order to avoid a road death?

Standards enforcement is a regulatory process.

Standards setting is a political process: How much is society willing to pay in order to mitigate a risk? Although pollies would prefer to avoid responsibility for those decisions, by abdicating them to ‘someone else’, the outcome is an inexorable trend in only one direction. (That’s why the pollies eventually had little choice but to take back responsibility, from medical bureaucrats, the abdicated responsibility for the various ‘lockdown’ and isolation restrictions for Covid 19. The medical bureaucracy would be happy to dictate our living and travel arrangements and vaccinations indefinitely, in “the interests of medical safety”.)

The current Civil Aviation Act makes CASA responsible for political decisions that it is not competent to make, taking into consideration costs it is not competent to measure. That’s one of the primary reasons for the complex, convoluted and ever-growing dog’s breakfast of aviation regulations imposed in Australia.

Changing the legislation is part of the solution to the problem (assuming it to be a problem). Standards setting and speed limit decisions shouldn’t be CASA’s to make in the first place. The opinions of the regulator (assuming it has the technical competence) should be merely one consideration in those decisions.
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