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For the Politically Savvy.

Old 28th May 2012, 23:16
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For the Politically Savvy.

The Hansard for the Estimates paints a grim picture, keep dipping into it and have a tough time finding a little ray of sunshine to brighten a rainy day. At every turn there are serious issues raised, which, if the people responsible were doing their publicly paid jobs properly should not be raised.

Airports and Infrastructure services – a mess.
Air Traffic Services – a mess.
ATSB services – a mess.
CASA services – a mess.

My question is, given that the Senate committee appears to have the information to ask those awkward little questions, the patience to wait for the on notice answers and the horsepower to affect change or call for an inquiry, why don't they??.

Being a country lad with no political savvy, would someone who knows how the dark, subterranean world of politics works – enlighten me. One candle power would do the trick, just so I could find my way home in the dark - without stepping in the pony pooh.

Last edited by Kharon; 28th May 2012 at 23:49. Reason: Failed trough test.
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Old 28th May 2012, 23:52
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It’s a combination of issues, Kharon.

First and foremost, whichever side is in government, they both rely on the same bureaucrats to keep the heat off the government.
Who is that most downunda pruners blame for every aviation ill? CASA. And that suits both sides of politics very nicely, thank you very much. From governments’ perspective, CASA is doing a splendid job, notwithstanding that CASA actually achieves almost nothing of substance.

You lot take it hook, line and sinker, every time.

The last thing either side of politics wants to do is intervene and take control of anything, because then the spotlight of responsibility would move from the fall-guy bureaucrats to the politicians.

The second, more insidious, issue is that there are very few people left in politics who actually know anything about anything of substance. You now have a generation of politicians whose life experience prior to being elected comprised mainly of working as a staffer for a politician. (That’s why Peter Costello felt entitled to ‘take back’ ‘his’ seat from his staffer to whom the Liberals ‘gifted’ the seat.) Those politicians have also surrounded themselves with staffers who’ve never actually achieved anything other than going to Uni and joining a political party.

These people are great at managing the news cycle and dumbing down complex issues. However, they have no idea how to deal with substantial problems that require strategic thinking over a long-term. They equate the public interest with the party’s short-term political survival. All they do is what’s necessary to get into and stay in power.

Let me demonstrate: When Rudd got the knife, one of his own Parliamentary colleagues was asked, during a radio interview, why Rudd was so unpopular in his own party. The answer was: “Because the country was being run by unelected adolescents.” That was a reference to the staff in Rudd’s office.

Bad news: Australia is still being run by unelected adolescents. They just happen to be in offices other than Rudd’s – for the time being.
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Old 29th May 2012, 00:12
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Creamie


well done, you have just written a review of Yes Minister..............or was this actually our Federal Government?

Love your work!
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Old 29th May 2012, 02:55
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Tales of two cities.

Jaba - Love your work.
CP – Me too, as always, thank you for your erudite comments they light up a least one small dark corner.

I think we (you and I) will always disagree on the methodology used by the current crew at CASA; the management have publicly, clearly and repetitively demonstrated that there is much left to be desired in terms of honesty, integrity and a true ability to influence the real safety and administrative matters within their remit. That is plain for all to see from public documents, but not central to this discussion.

The people who are responsible for covering the ministerial arse have a job to do and, by enlarge there appears to be little quarrel from industry with them – per se. However, as you say the Politicians cannot see the wood for the trees, then perhaps it is time they were enlightened. For certain sure the pollys' cannot continue to plausibly deny or abrogate responsibility for events which occur after they have full knowledge.

So far, all of this dirty washing has all been kept under industry wraps and restricted to the annals of PPRuNe. But I think there would be hell to pay if the public ever found out in a way they would understand. The Air Services rip off alone would get them salivating let alone the increasing potential for an unthinkable.

Perhaps it's time they knew; the major 'parties' may not give a toss because there are few votes associated, the bureaucrats may be deeply entrenched, tucked in and safe, the CASA guys snuggled down under nice warm spin blankets and tin foil hats, which only leaves Joe Public the long suffering mug who pays for all this and the industry that tolerates it out in the cold.

I just worry that the venerable Sunfish has the right of it; 3 smoking holes before reform, probity and excellence can replace dross, spin and an ever diminishing safety net. It's all to play for, the funds are there, the abilities are there, the expertise is there, seems to me we just need to get some political will there. Question is how??.

The optimist says perhaps if there were no rocks left to hide under, the pessimist says everyone has rocks, the pragmatist says everyone will protect their rice bowl.

Aye, 'tis a puzzle Creamie, way beyond my poor old wooden head.

Last edited by Kharon; 29th May 2012 at 02:57.
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Old 29th May 2012, 05:46
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The question of "questions on notice" are interesting as I witnessed in Senate Estimates (Military equipment questions in which Sen Fawcett featured). It appears a question on notice must be answered, but an obsfucated answer that does not really answer the question, needs to be asked again. One simply can't "not accept" the answer and demand a better answer. Same goes with different public servants answering to those on say 6 months convenient leave. This obviously puts pressure on the "asker" to fit in with Parliamentary calendar dates before the "askee" can be put on the spot again.

I think next Senate Estimates RAA&T are August and then 2013 sittings.

My observations of today's proceedings only, someone may be able to confirm these observations?
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Old 29th May 2012, 06:29
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Special K and cream puff with another episode in the long running cereal wars epic in the 'Seige of Fort Fumble!'

Bravo..Prost and have another schnapps! The trouble with seiges is that invariably the rats escape through the sewers, to come and kill off another civilization with the bubonic plague...oh that's right different century.

cream puff said: The second, more insidious, issue is that there are very few people left in politics who actually know anything about anything of substance.
Well gathering from last weeks RAT (there's that rodent again) Estimates transcript, I believe there are one or two Senators that would strongly disagree with your generalized opinion on pollies cream puff!

Whoever has been feeding them intel has now had the 'bona fides' of their intel tested and found to be very genuine...so there's the key and the lock now the key needs turning!
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Old 29th May 2012, 06:45
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So who is to blame for the mess?
When I voice concerns about safety issues with CAA people,
they say:
"We just enforce regulations, if you have an issue with those regulations you should take it up with the politicians".
The Pollies say:
"We sign off on regulations provided to us by the experts, we do not understand complex issues, if you have a problem take it up with the regulator"....bit like catch 22 really...
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Old 29th May 2012, 08:53
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So who is to blame for the mess?

"We just enforce regulations, if you have an issue with those regulations you should take it up with the politicians".
Whilst this argument has been running for years, it now explains why no re- write of the regulations has taken place. So what has the $200+million been spent on? Would it be worth a trip to Fyswick to check on credit card receipts, someone has certainly been screwed, and we paid for it, (they) possibly used ASICs for I.D.so should be easy to identify or could some members of G.A. have falsified same. They're just not to be trusted!

On the other hand if it has been the politicians doing the re-write, no wonder no results these people haven't the expertise of CAA operatives.

It will have to remain a mystery? Thorn Bird, trust that answers your question. CAA certainly didn't do anything!

SW
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Old 29th May 2012, 23:23
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Sarcs: I said ‘very few people left’, not ‘no people left’.

Absent the ‘intel’ being fed to them, they would know very little and most of them would prefer not to know, unless the ‘intel’ provides ammunition to embarrass their opponents.

The issues of apparent ‘controversy’ being dealt with by the committee have been almost the same for decades - literally. The only thing that changes are the bums on the seats.

Independents have the luxury of never being incumbents. The major parties don’t have that luxury. They know that if they make too much noise about an issue, they might be expected to do something about it when the electorate next swaps dumb for dumber.

The ‘biggest’ decision any government has made in about a decade about the governance of CASA, was the reinstatement of the CASA Board. Has anyone noticed one iota of difference in outcomes between CASA having a Board and CASA not having a Board?
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Old 30th May 2012, 01:46
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The ‘biggest’ decision any government has made in about a decade about the governance of CASA, was the reinstatement of the CASA Board. Has anyone noticed one iota of difference in outcomes between CASA having a Board and CASA not having a Board?
Creamie,

You and I know that the Civil Aviation Act 1988 severely limits any intervention by the Board (or Minister) v. the power of the CEO, in much of CASA's activities.

Thank you, Malcolm Frazer, in one of his many aviation related naive and short sighted decisions, with which we have been living ever since.

Smart ministers can make a difference, I rate Kim Beazley, John Sharp and Mark Vaile in that category, of recent ministers with a responsibility for civil aviation. Warren Truss held out against the bureaucratic tide to ensure risk management was enshrined in the Airspace Act 2007, a concept missing from the Civil Aviation Act.

Tootle pip!!
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Old 30th May 2012, 02:31
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…. the Civil Aviation Act 1988 severely limits any intervention by the Board (or Minister) v. the power of the CEO, in much of CASA's activities.
That’s precisely my point. The ‘biggest’ change to CASA’s governance implemented by a government in around a decade is of no substantial consequence.

Successive governments have deliberately chosen to limit their control of, and therefore responsibility for, CASA’s activities. Why on earth, then, do ostensibly intelligent people continue to hope that any government is going to intervene to make any substantial change to CASA, this side of hell freezing over?

And risk management has been ‘enshrined’ in the Airspace Act 2007. Wow! So that’s why it stopped raining mid-air induced metal in Australia. Thanks Wozza.
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Old 30th May 2012, 03:11
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Creamie,
I could (but I won't) nominate one relatively recent Minister, who was smart enough to know that the present charade was not going to provide any political "cover" if the worst happened, and we had a major accident.

Said Minister "decided" to do something about CASA, but was stopped in his tracks by the then head of PMC, who stopped the proposals stone motherless dead ---- a great pity, as I, for one, thought his planned approach to a real reform of CASA had a serious chance of success.

Unfortunately, political cold feet at a "higher level" won the day, and here we are today.

Tootle pip!!
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Old 30th May 2012, 03:21
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Great post, Creampuff.
God only knows what the endgame will be.
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Old 30th May 2012, 04:22
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From the Act
12 Directions
(1) The Minister may give the Board written directions as to the performance of its functions or the exercise of its powers.
(1A) Without limiting subsection (1), a direction under that subsection may require the Board to consult:
(a) in the manner specified by the Minister; and
(b) about matters specified by the Minister; and
(c) with bodies and organisations specified by the Minister.
(2) Directions as to the performance of its regulatory function shall be only of a general nature.
(4) The Board must comply with a direction given under subsection (1).
(5) This section does not affect the application of section 28 of the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 in relation to CASA.
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Old 30th May 2012, 05:54
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Yes, those Ministerial directions are hard-hitting. From the most recent CASA Annual Report:
Ministerial directions

On 2 May 2011, the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport gave the CASA Board a notice of strategic direction under section 12A of the Civil Aviation Act. This notice was a Statement of Expectations for the Board of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority for the period from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2013. The notice was the formal, written expression of the Minister’s expectations concerning the operations and performance of CASA for a two-year period.

In response to the Statement of Expectations, the Board provided a Statement of Intent presenting its high-level expression of direction and priorities for CASA in the period to 30 June 2013. The detail relating to the Statement of Intent was fully embedded in the CASA Corporate Plan 2011–12 to 2013–14.
Wow! Not a partially embedded statement of intent, but a fully embedded statement of intent, in response to a statement of expectations.

Cop this, CASA:
While striving to continuously improve all areas of the organisation, we will focus on five major deliverables:

▪ standardisation, consistency and efficiency

▪ continuing to build the skills of our staff

▪ delivery of regulatory services to a growing aviation industry

▪ successful implementation of the new maintenance regulations and effective planning for the delivery of the suite of operational regulations

▪ ongoing surveillance of the Australian aviation industry.

I expect everyone, from our frontline inspectors to the people who perform support functions, to play an important role in achieving the objectives set out in the Corporate Plan.
Scary stuff (if you’re scared of being flogged with a piece of wet lettuce).

Note they’re still ‘planning’ for the delivery of the suite of operational regulations.

Last edited by Creampuff; 30th May 2012 at 05:56.
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Old 30th May 2012, 06:25
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And, until morale improves the whippings with a wet shoelace will continue.

Ouch!
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Old 30th May 2012, 07:19
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From the Act:
12A Minister may give the Board notices about its strategic direction etc.
(1) The Minister may notify the Board in writing of the Minister’s views on the following matters:
(a) the appropriate strategic direction for CASA;
(b) the manner in which CASA should perform its functions.
(1A) Subsection (1) does not permit the Minister to notify views in relation to a particular case or a particular holder of a civil aviation authorisation.
(2) In performing its functions, the Board must act in accordance with notices given under subsection (1).
Cream puff says - Successive governments have deliberately chosen to limit their control of, and therefore responsibility for, CASA’s activities
Seems to be control and responsibility implicit in the Act.
The same as you, I feel that nothing will be achieved.

Last edited by blackhand; 30th May 2012 at 07:41.
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Old 30th May 2012, 23:21
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So do you consider that a notice with any substantial consequence for CASA’s regulatory activities can and is likely to be given to the Board under 12A? If so, what would the notice say?

My prediction is that piece of wet lettuce I quoted above from the Annual Report is about as much ‘control’ and ‘responsibility’ as the Minister is prepared to accept.
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Old 31st May 2012, 00:10
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Creamie,

If you want to get anything out of that wet lettuce, you'll need to warm it first.....
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Old 31st May 2012, 02:29
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Yes, those Ministerial directions are hard-hitting

It is not all that long ago that this provision was introduced. Prior to that the Regulator was independent. I think that we all had reasonable fears regarding the outcome ...
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