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482

T. & T. Civil Aviation Authority Bill

Tuesday, May 02, 2000

[SEN. MONTANO]

whether it is part or all of that, the fact of the matter is that the Minister can interfere directly in the appointment or revocation of licences and permits under this piece of legislation.

Under the existing legislation no such power exists, whereas under the existing legislation there are three members of the Board who are appointed by the President, and of course, they could be political appointees. The fact of the matter is that when you have professionals acting in this manner, they tend to take their duties seriously.

Furthermore, under the Air Transport Licensing Authority, the Air Navigation Licensing of Air Transportation Order there are specific guidelines that the board must follow in the issuing of licences and permits and that sort of thing. There is no such requirement under this piece of legislation.

The Minister did say that some other sister piece of legislation is going to be brought, but how could we understand the impact of this without seeing that. That makes it very difficult for us to understand what we are really doing here. Bearing in mind that the Minister can interfere directly, how then can the Minister say that the body is going to be independent and autonomous? He is making a mockery of the legislation. I cannot agree with that clause. I have no difficulty with clause 3. If that is what you want this organization to do, I have no problem with it: you can make it do whatever you like if it is going to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization; I have no problem with that.

If you want to make it more realistic in terms of corporate governance, that is fine, but in terms of the direct governmental interference, I have difficulty with that and we have seen over and over the thread through numerous pieces of legislation where this Government puts things like this where the Minister can interfere directly in the organization and institutions they are setting up and that is their vision. How can the private sector operating here really be expected to invest millions of dollars when on a whim and fancy, politicians can interfere in how they do business; what routes they can fly, whether their pilots are certified or not certified?

I am not suggesting that this Minister or any Minister would do so but it lends itself to rampant interference. How can any private sector organization really operate in that kind of framework? Bear in mind that the Government as a shareholder owns roughly one third of a major airline. An unscrupulous minister

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