Dick Smith, former chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority and Civil Aviation Safety Authority, has hit out at Airservices Australia and the ABC’s The 7:30 Report in an unusual — and expensive — stunt designed to raise awareness of his ongoing air traffic safety concerns.
Smith has sent a letter to The 7:30 Report ’s Kerry O’Brien, along with a cheque for $100,000, to highlight his allegations that the program has been “captured” by Airservices Australia’s spin doctors.
The letter (click here for Dick Smith‘s perspective in full) weaves through accusations of interview footage being twisted or dumped, important arguments suppressed and story tips ignored in order to protect AA and its alleged lapse in air traffic control measures at Avalon Airport — Smith argued in a press release last year that “Avalon Airport, near Melbourne has now operated for two years with over 1 million passengers in “dirt road” uncontrolled airspace.”
Here are some excerpts:
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… Kerry, I believe you are really letting Australia down. There will unfortunately be blood on your hands when the inevitable accident occurs and it becomes apparent that you have not only suppressed stories on the need for air traffic control but you have also run stories which are quite dishonest and inaccurate and have prevented airports being upgraded to controlled airspace.
… I sincerely believe that because of the growing number of movements and the complete lack of any air traffic control or even a local radio operator at Avalon, it will only be months before there will be a major mid-air collision with hundreds of lives being lost. Because of that, I am prepared to pay for the tower (that exists already) to be manned. I enclose a cheque for $100,000 made out to Airservices Australia.
I am not sending it directly to them because they will not accept it and they will use their spin doctors to distort my offer and stop any change.
I hope this cheque will give you a chance to do a proper story about the neglect.
…I have explained to you before that there is a financial benefit for the Airservices Australia executives not to have the tower operating. This is because all small towers lose money for Airservices and the executives depend on a substantial part of their pay on the bonus of the profits of the organisation.
…I trust you will contact Airservices and I look forward to your major story on this issue and the handing over of the cheque to get air traffic control operating at Avalon.
Kerry O’Brien was in transit and unable to comment prior to publication.