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Old 9th Jan 2015, 21:55
  #2610 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Salt Lake City Utah
Posts: 3,051
I keeps tellin' ya: Successive governments continue to be very happy with CASA and ATSB, because CASA and ASTB continue to do their real jobs, really well. People like Mssrs Mrdak, Dolan, Aleck and Hawke know the real job of agencies like CASA and ATSB - they've been playing the government game for a loooooong time.

CASA and ATSB continue to be perceived as doing a really good job, by the people who matter.

CASA and ATSB continue to be perceived as saving punters from the 30,000' death plunge. That's why the response to almost every event that results in a perceived risk to aviation safety in Australia almost always results in more regulation and more power and resources for regulators.

Almost nobody in governments care that there may be little-to-no causal link between anything CASA or ATSB does, or thousands of pages of regulations, and changes in safety risks in reality. Not enough, at least, to put their vote in parliament where their mouth is. If the presumptive response to issues like CVD is to destroy some careers, who cares? It's 'safer' that way.

The people who make and break governments perceive Australia's "enviable aviation safety record" to be the product of brave regulators and competent accident investigators. Australian aviation would degenerate into dangerous criminality, and it would be raining VH-tailed aluminium, but for the thousands of pages of rules, a wise regulator to fearlessly and consistently enforce them, and a wise accident investigator to learn from and improve aviation safety as a consequence of in-depth, expert, independent accident investigations. Punters imagine that the adults in organisations like Qantas watch and listen, with bated breath, as experts from the regulator conduct fine-tooth comb audits and carry out frank and fearless regulatory action to keep the airline on the safe, straight and narrow path of compliance.

The accidents that do occur are, of course, nothing to do with the thousands of pages of regulations (unless there are too few of them) or the way in which the regulator or accident investigator were doing their jobs (unless there was an unfortunate, one-off, out-of-character, 'lapse', immediately corrected by working out an MoU).

The punters don't know - and, more importantly, don't want to know - that CASA and ATSB don't really make much positive difference to aviation safety.

The punters don't want to know the implications of the travesty and sick joke that was CASA's and ATSB's response to the ditching of NGA.

The punters don't want to know that the Frankenstein that is the regulatory reform program has burnt and will continue to burn hundreds of millions of dollars to continue to produce the regulatory equivalent of the Spruce Goose: An expensive, complex and useless waste of space like the Australianised Seasprite. If something's useless, what harm can it possibly do?

The punters don't care that those blocks of land from which those dangerous and noisy little aircraft operate are being turned into warehouses and high rise by rich property developers with 'friends' in governments.

The punters just want to feel that governments are protecting them from the 30,000' death plunge.

People in the GA community don't matter. They don't make or break governments. That's why there's bi-partisan apathy towards the plight of GA.

The Laborials know that the chances of a major hull loss in Australia are infinitesimally small and it's a coin toss as to which 'side' will be in power if it happens. They also know that there's almost no measurable causal link between anything CASA and ATSB does on the one hand and the objective (versus perceived) risks to aviation safety on the other. There's therefore no political advantage in one 'side' taking the risk of making the aviation sector a differentiator between them and the other 'side', by actively intervening in the aviation sector. If one 'side' were to, for example, implement a policy of 'promoting' aviation, the other 'side' could attribute subsequent accidents to that policy. That 'side' would be perceived as increasing the risk of the 30,000' death plunge and that could affect that 'side's' electoral chances.

Best instead for both 'sides' to maintain a 'hands off' approach to the 'independent' safety regulator and 'independent' accident investigator, so that there continues to be plausible deniability of responsibility. The occasional parliamentary inquiry and rhetorical fist waving provides the facade of accountability. As I said at the time, if you'd deleted the names, you wouldn't have known from reading Hansard that there'd been a change of government: The people who'd been roundly criticising the regulator pre-election were strenuously defending the regulator post-election.

(However, it must be said that the facade is becoming increasingly shabby and obvious even to the unskilled in the dark arts of politics. That's why there's increasing realisation in the electorate that there's little difference between what the major parties do when in government - hence the name "Laborials".)
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