According to Dick Smith, Airservices Australia is the AWB of the skies. It’s a single desk, commercial, profit-making body that also happens to be in charge of regulating air safety. And that’s where the trouble starts.

The Australian government wants to move to the safer US airspace system called NAS (National Airspace System). Transport and Regional Services Minister Warren Truss is “constantly spruiking” the plan, says Smith, but at the same time Airservices Australia, which regulates airspace, argues that the system would be unsafe while it continues to reverse the airspace and government policy.

What is the basis of AA’s claim? According to Smith, a fraudulent safety document. When Les Fisher was chairman of AA (he later became deputy chairman of the organisation), says Smith, Airservices prepared a “fraudulent safety case” to justify the reversal of the airspace classifications, a move “which would unnecessarily endanger the lives of passengers”.

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Two weeks ago, Smith reiterated this claim in a letter to Fisher, calling for a response (the full letter is on Smith’s website). The deputy chairman remained silent, but on Wednesday, Truss announced that Fisher had decided to retire from the Board two months early.

It’s a sign that something’s not quite right at AA, yet the government hasn’t done anything to investigate the claim that Airservices Australia fraudulently manufactured a document to counteract government policy.

This must be a nightmare for Warren Truss, says Smith – all of it with a “similar ring to what has happened at the Wheat Board”. A non-government body is effectively impeding the plans of a democratically-elected government and yet, Truss has “not been prepared” to stand up to this organisation which is “obviously acting corruptly”.

So why hasn’t this story been picked up by the media? Dick Smith has a theory: Airservices Australia gives awards for journalists who write positively about them, as well as some pretty tasty prizes, like round-the-world air tickets.

We rang Truss’s office for a response but they didn’t have time to speak to us before deadline.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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