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Minister flying blind on CAA Bill

Belinda Vernon National Transport Spokesperson

27 August 2001

Minister flying blind on CAA Bill

The Minister of Transport must urgently address the needs of pilots that are the unwitting holders of invalid medical certificates following Friday's High Court ruling, National's Transport Spokesperson Belinda Vernon said today.

The High Court ruling, as to who has the authority to assess a pilot's fitness to fly, found in favour of plaintiffs representing a range of pilot and medical interests.

"The Judge has found that medical certificates signed under delegated authority of the Director by persons who were not also approved medical assessors are unlawful. Urgent action must be taken so innocent pilots aren't penalised.

"It is unacceptable that incorrectly signed medical certificates continued to be issued when questions about the Director's authority to issue medical certificates have been hanging over the CAA since at least February.

"The ruling also brings into question the rationale for much of the legislation that the Minister introduced.

"The Minister was flying blind when he introduced the CAA legislation in a fit of panic earlier this year. The Minister's consequent dilly-dallying on the amended Bill has exposed a number of pilots who the Court has now found hold incorrectly issued medical certificates.

"The ruling justifies the Opposition's perseverance in securing significant amendments to the Government's original legislation to preserve the concept of devolution and to ensure it is approved medical professionals who determine a pilot's fitness to fly - not the CAA.

"Importantly, for the public, the ruling emphasises that approved doctors have an obligation to put the interests of aviation safety ahead of the interests of their (pilot) patient, should the two conflict.

"The Minister must indicate which parts of the Bill he intends to progress, when he intends to do so and explain why he has delayed progress on the Bill so far. Does he concur with the Judge that the Director has 'ample authority'?" Belinda Vernon said.

Ends


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