Since the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic began, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, the Hon. Michael McCormack MP has been convening what are called 'Aviation Ministerial Roundtable' meetings via teleconference.
The AFAP is one of the invited parties. Other invited parties include Shane Carmody from CASA, Greg Hood from the ATSB, Mike Higgins from the Regional Airline Association of Australia (RAAA), Mark Sedgewick from AIPA and representatives from various operators and airports etc.
At these meetings, the Deputy Prime Minister provides an update of Government policy and developments relevant to aviation, often inviting updates from various Department heads and officials, before opening the floor to the invited parties.
So far, AFAP Executive Director Simon Lutton and I have attended three of these aviation roundtable meetings with the Deputy Prime Minister. The issues which we have recently raised on behalf of members include:
- Extension of the JobKeeper payment program beyond its currently planned finish date of end September. It is clear to us that aviation is the hardest hit industry and many Australian airline pilots are unlikely to be working and will require this support beyond the end of September in order to survive financially.
- Removal of commercial pilot from the list of occupations eligible for temporary skills shortage visas (previously known as s457 visas). With so many skilled and experienced Australian pilots currently unemployed or stood down we cannot see the justification for leaving the occupation of commercial pilot on this list. For clarity, this representation applies to future visa applicants and not current visa holders (i.e. those already working and residing in Australia).
- Concerns over security protocols which lead to the unnecessary “patting down” of flight crew when going through airport security at a time when we are all seeking to minimise physical contact. This issue is particularly prevalent at Brisbane Airport where the use of body scanners instead of x-ray machines inevitably leads to physical pat downs.
I have put each of these concerns in writing ahead of raising them in person directly with the Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon. Michael McCormack MP. We will keep you advised of progress on each of these issues and any other relevant government policy issues that emerge.
Stay safe and best regards,
Captain Louise Pole