SOS! Support Our Survey – but time is short

22 September 2013 / by the GAA team / Consultation, Costs, Employment, Governance, Maintenance, Medical, Privacy, Safety, Security

beehiveWhen Parliament’s Regulations Review Committee convened on September 19 to hear submissions opposing what Minister of Transport Gerry Brownlee signed into law last year, dramatically increasing costs to GA operators in particular, consultation was a key topic.

Notably – nine months after the first objections were raised – the Ministry of Transport suddenly revealed its response at the hearing and the Ministry’s representative declared himself “fairly confident” of its case.

The CAA and the Ministry say they are satisfied that they met all the legal requirements of a consultation process. Legally perhaps – but these people do not live in the real world, where things are seen very differently and often more clearly.

For example, until recently, the CAA took a lax approach to the register of aircraft – allowing anyone to obtain personal details of owners from its website. But when it came to notifying customers of any consultation process, the CAA said that its database might be flawed, there were privacy concerns and it would not use email as a way of notifying interested parties.

This is arrant nonsense, based on a culture of laziness and inefficiency supported by “rules and regulations”.

The CAA’s culture of over-cautious inertia can’t be quickly changed, but there is an evident and urgent need for more effective feedback from its customers.

So to help, GAA has created an online opinion polling facility.

It took us less than a week to create. Which makes you wonder what the CAA is doing with its vast resources and personnel, who are supposedly committed to enhancing dialogue with their customers.

The first user survey is here, and we invite you to take part.

This survey concentrates on issues relating to the CAA’s traditional consultation process. We believe that the process has serious flaws which favour the CAA and harm its clients, but unless you highlight the problems and tell us about your experience, GAA’s opinion will hold less weight.

Because the Ministry of Transport came very late to the party and bounced everyone at the RRC hearing with its well-overdue response, it is vital to tell the Regulations Review Committee about the real consequences of what we consider to be bad regulation. If you have been harmed by the CAA’s new charging regime, please tell us about your experience.

There is only a very short time to rebut the Ministry’s defence.

October 2 is the deadline for you to complete the survey.

Please join your fellow aviators and add weight to our common cause. If we fail, there are two more rounds of serious price increases to come before the CAA commences yet another price review.

On other matters…

The assessment of visibility minima

CAA HQ, where the air is unusually rare

CAA HQ, where the air is unusually rare

After the RRC hearing, Brian Mackie and Des Lines were invited to an informal meeting with Graeme Harris (CAA Director), John Sneyd (CAA Senior Legal Counsel), and Chris Ford (CAA General Manager, Aviation Infrastructure and Personnel).

The ramifications of the recent court case regarding a prosecution involving difficulties in assessing takeoff minima without appropriate equipment were discussed. We are now awaiting a letter from the CAA stating its position regarding the difficulties facing a pilot in making a correct assessment of visibility. We also discussed privacy issues relating to the consultation process, and repeated our invitation to the CAA to take part in online GAA debates. Don’t hold your breath…

The CAA’s headquarters in Asteron House are spacious, opulent and sterile. We saw not a single picture of an aeroplane there.

Fuel excise tax refunds for aircraft using motor fuel

On May 19, GAA wrote to the Minister of Transport about motor fuel excise tax refunds for aircraft using motor spirit (mogas). We see no justification, under the Treasury’s User Pays guidelines, for pilots to fund roading that they are highly unlikely to land on and GAA supporters believe that this taxation should be redirected.

The Minister, in his reply, stated:

Providing excise refunds for petrol used in aircraft would require an amendment to regulations made under the Land Transport Management Act 2003. The Ministry of Transport and the NZ Transport Agency are scheduled to review these regulations this year. I have requested that, as part of this review, officials investigate enabling refunds for the use of petrol in aircraft.

In a subsequent letter from the Minister dated July 8, he stated that:

This review will involve consultation with aviation stakeholders in relation to the availability of refunds for excise duty on petrol used in aircraft.

On August 25, we sent a letter to the CEO of the Ministry of Transport, Martin Matthews, requesting that we be consulted. The ramifications might extend to the “off-road” use of motor fuel by recreational boats, but there are other options including an aviation-focused fund which might, for example, finance Metflight services that have largely been abandoned by users since they became chargeable.

No reply has been received and the delay in getting an answer has exceeded the 20 working days maximum allowable as specified by the Office of the Ombudsman. We will be following this up with a further letter to the Minister, possibly followed by one to the Ombudsman.

SMS consultation

The consultation period for the four proposed choices has ended and the CAA has published a summary of submissions. This summary of submissions has given rise to a number of questions.

They may be read here.