Sorry, folks, we lost. RRC rejects all complaints against CAA charges

27 February 2014 / by Des Lines / Adventure, Consultation, Costs, Employment, Governance, Medical, Safety

Fellow aviators

It is with a profound sense of disappointment that I convey the result of the Regulations Review Committee to my submission and those from AOPA, NZALPA, Aviation NZ and Mr Blair Boyle, regarding the CAA Fees, Charges and Levies.

In essence, our submissions were unsuccessful and we have lost.

We went into this battle knowing full well that we had a formidable adversary – not just the CAA, but also the Treasury and the Office of the Auditor General.

In considering our submissions, the Regulations Review Committee sought further advice from the Treasury and the OAG.

“The Treasury did not find any aspect of the CAA’s method of fee setting to be
inconsistent with its guidelines. The Treasury also considered that the approach taken by the CAA was in keeping with the intent of the legislation; if Parliament had intended to limit fees to direct costs, it would have made this clear in the legislation. The Treasury considers that fees can be set at a level to cover those costs of the CAA and the convener that are attributable to performing the functions set out in Part 2A. This would allow the inclusion of overhead costs and the cost of running of the medical unit.

The RRC asked the Office of the Auditor General whether the fee-setting arrangements of the CAA were consistent with its guide, Charging Fees for Public Sector Goods and Services. They heard that the OAG had no concerns about the process the CAA followed to review its funding arrangements, calculate the costs of providing its services, and set the fees and charges. The OAG also noted that the CAA has committed itself to a three-yearly review of its fees, charges, and levies, in accordance with OAG guidance. The OAG said it considers that the CAA can recover the full costs of the medical unit through fees and charges, as it does through the regulations.

The OAG suggested, however, that the CAA could improve its description of the medical certificate application fee and what it covers, to minimise the potential for

The conclusion of the RRC

“While we understand that the degree of increase in some of the fees discussed in this report was large, both the OAG and Treasury assured us that the CAA followed their respective guidelines for fee setting. Both the Treasury and the OAG considered that the medical certificate application fee properly reflected, ‘costs directly associated with’ the functions under Part 2A of the Act. We accept their assurances and reasoning. In addition, we consider that several of the complaints in some respects reflect dissatisfaction with underlying policy, rather than the integrity of the regulations and the process by which they were made.

We therefore find that Civil Aviation Charges Regulations (No 2) 1991 Amendment Regulations 2012 are in accordance with the general objects and intentions of the statute under which they are made, do not trespass unduly on personal rights and liberties, do not make unusual or unexpected use of powers conferred by statute, do not unduly make rights dependent on administrative decisions not subject to review, do not contain matters more appropriate for parliamentary enactment, and do not call for elucidation for any other reason concerning their form or purport. We consider that the CAA did not fail to comply with any particular notice and consultation procedures prescribed by statute. Although we consider that the consultation here was adequate and appropriate, consideration could be given to using accepted, modern consultation methods.”

Where to from here?

Those who know me will be aware that I have a “glass half full” philosophy. I am firmly of the belief that defeat or failure may test you, but it need not stop you. I am sorry that we have failed in this instance. What really matters is that we get back up and try again. Being defeated is a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.

Loss and defeat are, to my mind, just mile-markers on the road to success. It now serves to strengthen my resolve and while the easiest and the most logical thing to do is to quit (and that is what many may do), I have never been nor do I intend to become a quitter.

As my colleague Brian Mackie has so rightly pointed out, though this particular battle has been lost, much has been gained –

♦ The GA Advocacy Group has come into existence

♦ An alternative means of exchanging user opinion and taking action was created by way of our now extensive email database, making it possible to quickly promulgate information and carry out surveys

♦ We are a lot wiser about how the system works than perhaps we were a year ago

Although this case has been lost due to a failure to prove fault in the interpretation of the legislation, the consequences of Treasury and OAG directives and guidelines will emerge over time.

Everyone involved in GA will have already noticed that the economic effects of the legislation are beginning to show. We believe they will be broadly in line with predictions of a decline in PPL holders in favour of RPL or microlight licence holders, with PPL becoming just an intermediate stage to a professional flying career. There will be a continuation of the already visible change in the profile of NZ recreational flying.

In conclusion, I would like to thank each and every one of you for the support that you extended to me in my efforts to challenge this legislation, particularly the 620 pilots who joined with me as co-submitters. It has been a very humbling experience to have that support and I just wish that I could have delivered you some better news.


“I only know one enemy greater than Adolf Hitler during the war and that was the British Treasury”.

– Air Vice-Marshal D C T Bennett, founder of the Pathfinders, memoirs, 1958