Following the last election, and the long overdue departure of Gerry Brownlee as Minister of Transport (arguably the CAA’s least competent overlord in living memory) to his new role in protecting our great nation as Minister of Defence, we must now work with two new faces: Simon Bridges as Minister of Transport and Tukituki National MP Craig Foss, Associate Minister of Transport, responsible for civil aviation. Foss remains outside the Cabinet after a dull ten-year parliamentary stint including semi-senior roles in National-led governments.
Simon Bridges and his Associate Minister Foss have not made a stellar debut in their new guises, as far as GAA is concerned. Bridges received a letter from GAA in early December 2014, and his office told us they had passed it on to Foss. Two months passed by and then – when Foss’s office was reminded of the letter and made aware of this article – they told us that the letter had been passed on in error because “Mr Foss does not have portfolio responsibility for the issues raised”.
Which raises another issue: Why did nobody at the offices of Foss or Bridges bother to let GAA know about this before we harshly prompted them, around three months later? It tends to reinforce our opinion, based on experience, that the Ministry of Transport is sclerotic, and incapable of smoothing the flow of traffic through its own departments – let alone our roads, rails or airways.
The key questions here are: If Simon Bridges’ office does not know what its minister’s terms of reference are, what hope have we? And why did Foss’s office sit on the letter for months without responding?
On February 16, Foss’s office told us that Bridges’ errant office was preparing a response (and remember that the original letter was written and delivered on December 4 2014).
While waiting, we became interested in a press release from Mr Foss’s office:
Foss encourages small business submissions
Small Business Minister Craig Foss is encouraging small business owners to make submissions to the Rules Reduction Taskforce.
“Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) interact with government agencies about 9 million times every year, giving them valuable insight into the efficacy of many of our rules and regulations,” Mr Foss says.
“While the Taskforce is primarily focused on property regulations administered by local authorities, unnecessary or pedantic rules administered by central government will also be considered.
“These silly and sometimes contradictory rules, even within the same region, stymie business development.
“New Zealand is a country of small businesses. Reducing red tape will make it easier to do business and help the New Zealand economy grow.
“I encourage small businesses to submit their suggestions online atwww.govt.nz/rulesreduction, by 1 June 2015.”
So we thought about changing a few words and applying it to the other part of Foss’s new portfolio (which most concerns us), as follows:
Foss encourages general aviators’ submissions
Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss is encouraging general aviators and related businesses to make submissions to the Rules Reduction Taskforce.
“People in General Aviation interact with government and the CAA countless times every year, giving them valuable insight into the efficacy of many of our rules and regulations,” Mr Foss says.
“While my new Cut Red Tape Taskforce is primarily focused on producing a vibrant aviation industry that could, I am told, contribute up to $16 billion a year to our country, unnecessary or pedantic rules administered by central government will also be considered.
“These silly and sometimes contradictory rules stymie New Zealand’s GA business development and often bewilder the CAA’s customers.
“New Zealand is a country of small aviators. Reducing red tape will make it easier to fly and help our General Aviation economy grow.
“I encourage everyone in general aviation to submit their suggestions.”
Is this a good idea? Of course it is. We’ll make the suggestion to Craig Foss, but don’t be too surprised if you hear nothing more about it from him or the CAA.
Aviators who have an issue with the CAA may find themselves referred to the Office of the Associate Minister of Transport, Craig Foss. It might be useful for them to judge his political performance here:
Craig Foss profile