Message from the Chair of the Board
The year 2013–14 has been one of achievement and challenge for CASA. We have achieved the principal targets set by the Government and have continued to deliver improvements both in Australia’s systems of aviation safety management and in CASA’s internal efficiencies. We have also unquestionably continued to enhance our international reputation as one of the world’s leading aviation safety agencies.
One of the first actions of the new Government was to announce an independent review of aviation safety regulation in Australia. The terms of reference of the Aviation Safety Regulation Review involved all agencies and departments that have a role in aviation safety in Australia. CASA contributed to the review panel’s considerations and at the time of writing we are waiting for the Government’s response to the recommendations.
It is unfortunate, but probably inevitable, that since its establishment in 1995 CASA has alternatively been characterised as being too heavy handed or too lax in its oversight of the Australian aviation industry. Our wide-ranging interaction with the industry creates challenges for regulation, and a level of tension between industry and the independent safety regulator should not be considered abnormal. CASA is mindful however that whatever other considerations may be taken into account in the exercise of its powers and the performance of its functions, the safety of air navigation and the prevention of aviation accidents and incidents are paramount.
CASA has specific regulatory and safety-related functions under the Civil Aviation Act 1988 and our line of accountability is to the Minister, Parliament and the courts. CASA is not accountable to the industry for the performance of its functions except to consult appropriately and be transparent, fair, consistent, efficient and respectful. Adopting contemporary regulatory methodology, and remaining vigilant to the requirements of the Civil Aviation Act, CASA will continue to encourage the aviation industry to assume greater responsibility for its own safety. The primary safety onus rests with the industry, not CASA.
Proud as we are of our accomplishments, we are also mindful of our obligation to perform our regulatory functions and deliver our regulatory services in an environment of continuous improvement where we listen to and understand industry’s perspective. Minimising red tape and reducing cost and complexity need not diminish CASA’s ability to maintain its safety-related and regulatory obligations, and I am confident that we have the support of the majority of the key stakeholders in the aviation industry and the Australian public as we pursue these objectives.
In addition to the matters covered in this report I am delighted to be able to inform you that, in terms of risk management, CASA was judged this year as the best performing Australian Government agency in the Comcover risk management benchmarking survey. In the history of the survey, across all participating Commonwealth agencies, only CASA has ever scored above 9 out of 10.
For those who are close to CASA, it was also not surprising to see the published results of our biennial staff engagement survey. The survey showed exceptional results in the dimensions of teamwork, fairness and respect for work colleagues, and that staff consider that they have an appropriate workplace and resources. Each of these received a favourable response from more than 80 per cent of all staff. There were of course some dimensions not as favourably reported on and, as you would expect, there is an action plan to further consider and address those.
In closing I would like to thank my fellow Board members, the Director, and all CASA staff for their contribution to the achievement of enhanced civil aviation safety in 2013–14.
Next year will see both additional and new Board members to replace David Gray and Helen Gillies, who have made an exceptional contribution to the Board and a range of CASA initiatives. It will also see the appointment of a new Director of Aviation Safety to replace John McCormick who has rightly earned the deep respect and confidence of the Board and staff alike. John’s term as Director will be remembered as one that delivered the Government’s regulatory reform agenda, significantly improved the skills of staff, and established an enduring strategy to ensure the standardisation, consistency and efficiency of CASA’s business.
I am confident that CASA’s committed and professional staff will continue to do as much as any regulatory authority can reasonably be expected to do to assist industry to deliver optimal aviation safety outcomes for all Australians. With their demonstrated energy and expertise, we will continue to strive for ‘Safe skies for all’.
Allan Hawke AC Chair CASA Board