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Annual Report 2005-06: Governance

Governance

Responsible minister

CASA is accountable to the Australian Parliament through the Minister for Transport and Regional Services.

The Hon Warren Truss MP has been Minister for Transport and Regional Services since 6 July 2005, when he was appointed to replace the Hon John Anderson MP.

Under the Civil Aviation Act 1988, the Director of Aviation Safety / Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is directly responsible to the Minister for CASA’s management.

Ministerial directions

Under the Civil Aviation Act, the Minister may require CASA to act in accordance with directions or notifications about:

  • the way its functions are performed and powers are exercised (section 12)
  • strategic directions (section 12A)
  • supplying documents and information to specified nominees (section 12B)
  • reporting (section 12D).

Section 12C of the Act also provides the Minister with the power to enter into an agreement with the Director of Aviation Safety (that is, the CEO of CASA) about the performance of CASA’s functions and the exercise of CASA’s powers. The Director must take all reasonable steps to comply with the terms of an agreement.

In order to ensure regulatory independence, directions from the Minister about the performance of CASA’s regulatory function can only be of a general nature. This restriction also applies to notices under section 12A and an agreement under section 12C.

There were no statutory directions or notifications under sections 12A, 12B or 12D of the Civil Aviation Act in 2005–06.

Executive responsibility

Chief Executive Officer

Mr Bruce Byron AM began a five-year term as Director of Aviation Safety and CEO on 1 December 2003. The Director of Aviation Safety is the sole director of CASA for the purposes of the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997.

Under the CASA corporate governance arrangements, the role of the Director/CEO includes:

  • deciding the objectives, strategies and policies to be followed by CASA
  • ensuring that CASA works within the broad framework of the government’s policies and priorities
  • ensuring that CASA performs its functions in a proper, efficient and effective manner.

Mr Bruce Gemmell formally acted as CEO on one occasion during 2005–06.

Industry Complaints Commissioner

Role

The Office of the Industry Complaints Commissioner (ICC) was formally established on 19 February 2006.

The role of the ICC is:

  • to be the central coordinating point for all complaints, and to ensure that they are examined and responded to expeditiously
  • to offer people in the aviation industry and the public an easily accessible, timely, open and effective means of having CASA’s actions reviewed, and to make recommendations based on review findings
  • where necessary or appropriate, to recommend to the Chief Operating Officer corrections to CASA’s processes and procedures to prevent recurrence of problems of the kind that have given rise to one or more complaints.

The ICC has not replaced formal avenues of appeal against, or review of, CASA decisions, such as the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

The services of the ICC are available to any person, other than a CASA employee, who has a genuine complaint about the actions or behaviour of a CASA employee that they have been unable to resolve with that employee or that employee’s manager. The services of the ICC are provided free of charge.

CASA’s service charter, which is available on the CASA website, contains detailed information about what industry can expect from the ICC. The circumstances in which the ICC will not investigate a complaint are also explained in the service charter. CASA’s privacy statement is also available on the CASA website.

The ICC is required to inform industry participants that they must ensure their complaints to CASA do not result in a delay or forfeiture of their right to seek a stay on a CASA decision or to take their complaints to an external agency, such as the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Activities

From its inception until 30 June 2006, the office of the ICC received and addressed 219 complaints. Most were handled within the office or directly with the CASA staff concerned. An investigating officer was appointed and briefed for those complaints that required detailed investigation.

Many complaints related to exams, pilot licensing, medical matters, Aviation Security Identity Cards, aircraft registration and fees. Other issues investigated concerned a wide variety of matters, such as the interpretation of specific Civil Aviation Orders (CAOs); amateur-built and ultralight aircraft; parachuting; helicopter training; and low-flying aircraft.

The less complex complaints, which were generally in the licensing area, resulted in changes to CASA’s website and forms for greater clarity and accuracy, and changes to processes and procedures to provide better document tracking and faster response times. The more detailed investigations resulted in specific recommendations to the CEO, most of which were implemented.

About half of the investigations found in favour of the complainant. In these cases, the problem was usually due to ambiguous legislation, legislation that had not kept up with changes to the industry or technology, incorrect or insufficient guidance provided to CASA staff, or delays caused by inefficient processes or lack of IT support.

Examples of investigations undertaken in 2005–06, and their results, are as follows.

A complaint concerning a welding authority found that CASA’s legislation had been correctly followed by field office staff. However, a change in legislation had resulted in an unreasonable requirement for the complainant to sit examinations to obtain a qualification that CASA had previously deemed the complainant to have. The investigation recommended an alternative means of complying with the qualification requirements of the legislation, and recommended that the Maintenance Regulation Project group ensure that the anomaly is addressed in proposed changes to the legislation.

An investigation into servicing carried out by an Australian company recommended that CASA review its protocol for communication with external organisations. It also recommended that CASA review the actions of the staff concerned, consider enforcement action against an employee of the company, and ensure that the company took sufficient action to prevent a recurrence of the problem.

Two members of the aviation industry complained to the ICC about the actions of a field office in regard to flying training requirements. The CAO applied by the field office was ambiguous and the office’s interpretation, while sensible, was not in accordance with legal advice. The field office’s action in this case was changed in favour of the complainants. The ICC recommended that the CAO be clarified and, if necessary, amended.

A number of complaints were received about low-flying aircraft, and CASA failing to take action against the practice. Investigation by the ICC found that the pilots were generally complying with the requirements of the appropriate legislation, and the complaints were more to do with environmental issues, such as noise, and concern for safety. The ICC recommended that local field offices continue to monitor operators’ compliance with legislation, and to encourage the ‘fly neighbourly’ policy.

Audit and Risk Committee

Role

In conformity with the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 (CAC Act), CASA continued to maintain the Audit and Risk Committee in 2005–06.

The committee’s functions are broad, and include:

  • assisting CASA to comply with its statutory obligations under the Civil Aviation Act and the CAC Act
  • assisting CASA to comply with government policy, regulations, guidelines and codes of practice and conduct
  • providing a forum for communication between CASA’s senior managers and its internal and external auditors
  • overseeing CASA’s risk management function.

The committee operates under a charter intended to reflect best audit committee practice. It reports to the CEO and has direct access to internal and external auditors, the Chief Financial Officer, the Manager Internal Audit, the Manager Legal Services, and other senior managers.

Members

At 30 June 2006, members of the Audit and Risk Committee were:

  • Barbara Yeoh (Chair)
  • Bruce Gemmell (member)
  • Michael Lewis (member).

A majority of the members of the committee are independent of CASA.

See Appendix 1 for details of the qualifications and experience of the Audit and Risk Committee members.

Activities

The committee met on six occasions in 2005–06. During the year, the committee:

  • assisted the CEO and CASA to comply with obligations under the CAC Act
  • provided a forum for communication between the CEO, CASA’s senior managers and the internal and external auditors
  • assisted CASA generally to comply with its legislative and other obligations
  • endorsed CASA’s Strategic Internal Audit Plan and Annual Audit Program
  • provided guidance on the effective management of risk
  • advised the CEO on the adequacy of internal audit procedures, accounting procedures, systems, internal controls and financial reporting
  • made recommendations for improving efficiency, effectiveness and ethics in all areas of CASA’s operations
  • promoted accurate, quality and timely disclosures of financial and other information to the CEO and other key stakeholders
  • reviewed internal audit reports.