Imagine what might happen, if New Zealand had an APPG

It stands for an All-Party Parliamentary Group whose members cast aside politics and focus on matters directly affecting real people and their livelihoods.

UK MP Grant Shapps. He knows about GA and gets on with the job

In the UK, this is a long-established concept and its APPG-GA is a group of 203 MPs and members of the House of Lords who, among other things, have succeeded in a campaign to Cut the Red Tape at their Civil Aviation Authority.

APPG-GA champions UK general aviation, economically and culturally. It has five working groups comprising a mix of parliamentarians and subject experts, each group specialising in a particular area of concern for GA.

Results indicate that the APPG-GA is taken seriously by UK aviation bureaucrats. The group has just launched its latest plan, describing targets and how it intends to achieve them. APPG-GA chair and MP Grant Shapps said: “We feel it is important that our work is as open and transparent as possible. That is why we are publishing a programme of work for each sub-group, so the public and the Government are crystal-clear on what we want achieved for General Aviation”.

The plan includes campaigning for improved safeguarding of airfields, working towards greater tax relief for flight training, improving the fairness of lower airspace management, and opening clearer pathways through education to aviation jobs.

But could an AAPG-GA exist in New Zealand?

It seems unlikely.

NZ MP Phil Twyford: The man in charge of our aviation system. He approved of the CAA’s ban on the Boeing 737 Max 8. But that aircraft did not fly in New Zealand…

If there is more than one current influential member of government or opposition with so much as a Microlight Pilot certificate, we would be surprised. And to the GAA’s knowledge, no political party has any stated policy on general aviation.

New Zealand is not comparable to the United Kingdom, particularly when it comes to the aviation industry.

However, aviation is far more important to our country’s economy than most people understand, or politicians will admit.

Those at the coal face of GA in New Zealand are a small and fragmented band, easily marginalised by a regulator whose political masters have historically shown themselves to be nodding dogs, content to leave the Director to get on with it (but merciless, should it come to scape-goating for failure).

New Zealand has too many councils, too many DHBs and too much unproductive governance for its size and population. It also has too many aviation organisations serving too many interest groups. You might like to think that this so-called diversity reflects a desire for inclusivity and the accommodation of opinions but – like MMP – such fragmentation primarily serves the interests of power brokers inside and outside politics – as we always observe in the pork-barrel performance that follows most general elections (and from which the voters are excluded).

NZ MP Judith Collins: Hard on Graeme Harris over the Kaikoura chopper pilot prosecution when she was out of Cabinet, but fell strangely silent when she was rehabilitated

Little wonder that general aviation in New Zealand has no united voice, the people lower down in GA feel they have no influence, bureaucrats feel secure in paying only lip service to them and our politicians think they need pay no attention to GA, let alone consider setting up an APPG for it.