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Airline Industry Says Ag. and Tourism Will Suffer


8 December 2002

Airline Industry Says Agriculture and Tourism Will Suffer from Health and Safety in Employment Bill

The airline industry says the new provisions in the Health and Safety in Employment Amendment Bill currently before Parliament will inevitably result in reduced safety regimes and increased risks for overseas visitors to New Zealand using domestic flights. It will also potentially impose oppressive obligations for the nation’s farmers who use top dressing companies.

“If it proceeds with its intention, the government will ignore the earnest advice of the entire commercial aviation industry”, said John Funnell, President of the Aviation Industry Association of New Zealand.

Mr Funnell, one of New Zealand’s most experienced general aviation and rescue pilots, says the effect of the Bill, to make an aircraft the subject of the Health and Safety in Employment Act even though the safety of aircrew and passengers is already regulated by the Civil Aviation Act, “will impose conflicting legislation, additional costs and seriously degraded safety for both aircrew and passengers”.

“Anything that puts the safety and health of any crew member at risk also puts at risk the other crew members, passengers and those on the ground over which the aircraft flies. This proposed legislation will do just that and has downstream implications for tourism airline and aerial agricultural operators.

“Aviation safety is recognised throughout the world as a specialist area of safety regulation. It is totally dependent on an interlocking international framework which specifies everything from aircraft design, to cabin safety, fuel quality, medical fitness, aircrew qualification and air traffic control.”

Mr Funnell says any degrade in air safety standards resulting from overlapping legislation will be monitored closely internationally, especially by global tourism operators. Currently New Zealand hosts nearly two million tourists each year and more than 25 per cent use domestic air services while they are here.

“If there is even a hint our air safety falls below international benchmarks as a result of this Bill, the rental car business will inevitably be the winner.”

Mr Funnell says the implications for aerial agricultural operators are also potentially damaging.

“The rural sector is already very wary of the impact of OSH – this Bill could see farmers having an implied responsibility for air safety relating to top dressing aircraft using airstrips on their property. Some farmers generously allow companies to use their strip for a whole district of farms, especially hill country sheep and beef farms, and this will no doubt stop if this Bill succeeds.”

Aerial fertiliser application in hill country has been assessed by the MWI Economic Service to add $1.3 billion in value to the $18 billion agriculture sector through the application of 800,000 tonnes of fertiliser by air of the total national fertiliser tonnage spread each year of three million tonnes.

“Our Association wishes to work with Government on this issue because we agree with its bottom line objective of ensuring aircrew have adequate health and safety coverage. However, it is totally unacceptable to introduce a framework which creates two overlapping and competing safety systems for regulating aircraft safety.”


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