The Deputy Prime Minister has defended the Government’s new air-safety rules amid accusations they could cause a midair collision.
Air-traffic controllers will now control only commercial jets, and light planes will not be tracked by radar technology at regional airports.
John Anderson, also transport minister, says the rules are needed to update air-traffic systems and improve the competitiveness of the country’s commercial air industry.
Mr Anderson has also told MPs it is not his job to advise on the technical details of what makes air traffic safe and he accepts the modernisation.
“That is why we have statutorily independent advisers to keep our skies safe, to advise on procedures and to run safety cases on new proposals. At every point, the bodies responsible for determining how to maximise safety, whether new proposals are safe, whether modifications should be made, have been fully involved in the design of what is, essentially, a proven international system.”
But the Australian Federation of Airline Pilots says Mr Anderson has been misled.
The federation’s Captain Robin Beville-Anderson says lives are being put at risk.
“The second-highest office holder in the nation, the Deputy Prime Minister, has been severely misled by his advisers. He’s made a very bad error, and it is going to cost lives. There was a closed crisis meeting on Friday simply because there were a number of airlines around Australia — small, regional airlines — who had not been consulted. They had not been involved in any of the (consultation) forums at all. They hadn’t even been consulted in this process.”