I note with interest that a number of peak industry bodies have joined forces to form what they call the Australian Aviation Associations Forum (AAAF). The aim of the associations is to ensure the industry presents a united voice to government on key aviation issues and policy, characterized by expertise and the widest possible representation of people and organizations involved in aviation.
The aviation industry has long been accused by government and government agencies as being fragmented and difﬁcult to deal with. All peak bodies want and need a seat at any communications and consultative table. The new AAAF certainly has expertise, with a number of member organizations well established and powerful in their own sphere of influence.
One thing is for sure, just like politics, aviation industry disunity is death and I think the AAAF is a great initiative. If they can agree on key policy and stick to their guns, there may be much needed change on the horizon in the Australian general aviation scene.
The forum members have not sat on their hands. They have already written an impressive aviation policy paper which has been made publicly available. Click here to read the policy; note that it has been posted on the AAAA website.
One of the key policy recommendations is for the Government to establish a Minister for Aviation or at least establish a Parliamentary Secretary with the sole responsibility for Aviation. The forum claim, inter alia, that focus may be lost when there is no Minister directly accountable for aviation. In my experience, a Minister for Aviation, maybe even an ambitious junior Minister, can really breathe life into the aviation portfolio. There is also a chance that he or she could also assist by getting complementary agencies such as the ATSB and CASA to clearly understand their role in the system of aviation safety.
An astute Minister may even be able to make some savings through increased efficiency in the agencies.
Of course, any Department of Aviation would not just be concerned with aviation safety; the Forum makes a good point in their policy paper that there also must be some energetic promotion of the aviation industry.
A Minister for Aviation is a good idea, and we once had one, but whether its time has come around again in a political climate where aviation votes don’t count for much is the $64,000 question. I wish the Forum well.
I have recently completed a consultancy assignment in Queensland which required me to visit 29 air operators, most of whom were located in regional areas of the State. This was an interesting job and very insightful.
One of the things I learnt was that a number were potentially impacted by the mining super profits tax, before it was subsequently amended by Prime Minister Gillard. I have no knowledge of the situation post the Gillard amendment.
I have always resisted publishing political comment on this website, and point out that I make no judgement either way about the tax or the politics, and I have resisted making any comment until after the federal election. I generally keep my politics to myself, however; I am reporting what was said to me by air operators.
A number who claimed to undertake work for mining or exploration companies said that their work had either dried up or been significantly reduced as a result of the uncertainty and conjecture about the super profits tax. Whether this was a ruse, or a case of the jitters or real cutbacks by the mining companies could not be determined, but the cutbacks in aviation activity were real. I was surprised as to the extent of the impacts this had on small regional air operators.
I hope that their outlook has improved as a result of the Prime Minister’s intervention and the amended tax. It illustrated to me how any State or Federal policy, made by any Government could have significant effects on the aviation industry.