Jetstar:

Bruce Buchanan, Group CEO, Jetstar, writes: Re. “Senate inquiry takes tougher approach on pilot training, safety” (24 June, item 19). I wish to respond formally to Friday’s post, in particular the inference that I personally prefer inexperienced pilots rather than experienced recruits.

This assumption grossly downplays the significant amount of industry and expert studies and opinion provided not only by Jetstar, but by other carriers, CASA, independent authorities and pilot unions, during the Senate enquiry with regards to pilot training hour minimums.

As shared with the Inquiry and documented in the final report, there is considerable international evidence and practice to suggest that competency based training delivers better safety outcomes than focusing on hours of ‘experience’ in any aircraft.

This view is supported worldwide by international regulatory bodies such as ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) and IATA, who agree that the safety of commercial airline operations is best ensured through a well designed and managed competency based approach to pilot training.

The move to competency-based training is supported by leading academics in the field and training experts.  To dismiss these views as merely arguments formulated from a basis of “entrenched interests” is an insult to all those operators and industry experts who submitted expert and experienced studies to this Inquiry.

To give you an analogy, how would you want doctors or specialist medical professionals trained?  By going to work in a hospital and clocking up hours or through an expertly designed training course at a leading university followed by close supervision/oversight by the most experienced professionals in the given field?

Jetstar maintains that the recommendation that co-pilots flying high capacity aircraft hold an Airline Transport Pilots License, thereby requiring a minimum of 1500 hours needs to be further thought through.

The 1500 hour minimum would have significant, unintended consequences on the entire aviation industry in Australia.

This minimum requirement would mean cadet pilots would come through the traditional aviation path rather than a structured and specific jet training program. It is important to note that if these changes are adopted Australia will not be getting the best of both worlds — pilots with both hours and an expertly designed jet training program — we will only be getting hours.

This minimum requirement would also decimate regional aviation, as that’s where the Australian carriers would need to recruit pilots.

Regional aviation in Australia will not be able to safely train the number of pilots over the next few years to meet the needs of the industry. It is hard to see how regional aviation is capable of training pilots for all of our future requirements and cope with the level of turnover and talent drain they will suffer as pilots seek career advancement in jet operators.

In addition, this will result in more young Australians going overseas to seek career opportunities with operators where this career path is the norm.

I fail to see how our significant investment in setting up our own expertly cadet programs with some of the world’s best training providers, our commitment to providing brand new career opportunities for Australians and New Zealanders who want to be pilots, our ability to provide an opportunity for young pilots to work to the safety standards of one of the world’s safest airlines in terms of the Qantas Group can be viewed as a “disdainful approach” for pilot training standards.

Alcatel, the NBN and The Oz:

Anthony Klan, journalist, The Australian, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Friday, item 6). Crikey published:

Crikey‘s Canberra spies report former Australian business writer turned Malcolm Turnbull adviser Stephen Ellis bragging to his table at last week’s Mid-Winter Ball that he had placed current Australian business writer Anthony Klan firmly on the drip over his boss’s desire to “destroy” the National Broadband Network. “

I am writing to correct a misleading article which appeared in last Friday’s Crikey.

According to the article, Malcolm Turnbull’s advisor Stephen Ellis was somehow responsible for uncovering the evidence which ultimately resulted in NBN boss Mike Quigley admitting he had made numerous incorrect public statements regarding both the extent of corruption at his former employer Alcatel, and regarding his role at that company while the corruption was occurring. The article states I was put “on the drip” by Mr Turnbull’s office and suggests this is how the information regarding Mr Quigley’s untrue statements came to light. This is entirely inaccurate.

The fact that Alcatel had been involved in corruption first came to light in the Australian press in late December at which time Mr Turnbull’s office released a statement regarding the issue. The matter then fell off the media radar almost entirely until I began investigating Alcatel in April after returning from a six month stint out of the country. Over the course of several weeks I discovered the picture painted by Mr Quigley regarding the Alcatel corruption (and his claimed responsibilities at Alcatel) was very different to what had actually occurred.

To claim this information was handed to me by Mr Turnbull’s office drastically overestimates the abilities of Mr Turnbull’s office. It also defies logic; even had Mr Turnbull’s office been able to uncover the information (which it hadn’t) it is nonsensical that it would sit on that information for several months.

For what it’s worth, Mr Turnbull’s advisor Mr Ellis both vigorously denies making the statements and confirms the information regarding the true extent Alcatel’s chequered past, and Mr Quigley’s incorrect statements, was uncovered by my intensive investigations.

The Vancouver riots:

Vancouver resident Dairobi Paul writes: Re. “Vancouver’s cyber-stasi: a Facebook counter-revolution” (yesterday, item 5). I watched on TV the last game of the Stanley Cup held in Vancouver and saw the Canucks fans at the game congratulate the winning Boston Bruins and cheer their goalie who really won the series for them. Then I turned off the TV and like most other Canuck fans nursed my sadness at their loss with the thought that there is another hockey season only months away.

About ½ an hour later I went on to my home’s balcony and saw a thick black plume of smoke coming from the centre of the downtown. I shouted to my daughter (13 yrs old) to tell her and she was miles ahead of me of what was going on having re-attached herself to the laptop after the game and was getting messages from her friends who had just returned home frightened having been downtown to watch the game on one of the big TV screens in streets. We turned on the TV and saw horrendous scenes of violence. I could hardly believe the extent of the viciousness of the rioters.

I’m no law and order, Howard/Harper-lover, red-neck, but I and many people in Vancouver are angry at what the, mostly, young middle class men and women did that night to our city. Perhaps to Inga Ting it’s all an insurance claim to replace the broken glass she refers to, but behind that broken glass was many a business that got trashed for no reason. I thank the company that my wife works for who let their staff out early that night to ensure that they got home safely before any trouble began because they were one of the business that had their property broken into.

It is lessening what happened by referring to it as only “destroying property”. Many innocent people who were in the city were traumatised by what was going on. There are many accounts of people standing in the way of the rioters to protect stores, cars and even police and medical people attending injured people. The next day the plywood sheets covering the broken shop windows were covered in messages of anger, shame and support for those who were adversely affected. Police cars were covered in (yes!) post-it notes in support of what they did.  This is a city which is trying to take back what they rioters took away — our dignity as humans and pride in our city.

Inga’s comparison to totalitarian societies of what is going on in Vancouver is way over the top. What the rioters did is a crime. They aren’t being persecuted for their beliefs or political association. As she has pointed out, many of them went to great lengths to make sure they were filmed and photographed and boasted about it online. It doesn’t take much to join the dots to draw a conclusion of the level of morality or intelligence of those who took part in the rioting.

If the theme of Inga’s piece is that “Vancouver is now seeing the capacity of these sites to divide communities, undermine solidarity and facilitate Big Brother-style mass surveillance and social control” she’s living in a different city than me. What’s going on is simple:  the rioters committed crimes and the community is helping the police identify them.

The Snow White test and video games:

Videogame freelancer Gabe McGrath writes: Re. “The Snow White test helps overturn violent video games law” (yesterday, item 13). Greg Barns, in his piece, seems to have added 1 and 1, and got 37.

In regards to a recent U.S. Supreme court ruling, Greg wrote:

“The Supreme Court’s decision could prove very useful to those in Australia who are fighting attempts by the Gillard government and state and territory Attorneys-General to impose a similar ban in Australia by introducing a rating of 18+ for video games. Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor and his state colleagues believe that violent video games are harmful to children and to teenagers, and this is one of their major rhetorical thrusts in selling the idea of a ban.”

I don’t know where you got that idea Greg:

  1. The Gillard Government is not trying to “ban” any videogames with the R18+ proposal.
  2. The introduction of an Australian R18+ rating for videogames is not for ALL games, it’s just applicable to those judged to be “suitable for adults only”.
  3. Brendan O’Connor is not “selling the idea of a ban” by stating his belief “violent video games are harmful to children and to teenagers”.

He is selling the idea of giving videogames an adult rating — just like that of films — so that violent games will no longer be “shoehorned” into the milder M15/MA15+ category.

That is, games sold as “18+” in other countries will finally be correctly labelled here.

Parents who are happy to let little Johnny play Violent Space Marines 3 (rated M) may be less enthused when it’s rated <R18+>.

Dave Gaukroger writes: Greg Barns appears to have his wires crossed about who wants what when it comes to video game classification.

Gamers and the industry want a R18+ classification for video games, and it’s the lack of one that is being used to ban or bowdlerise some games at the moment  because they are inappropriate for an MA15+ classification. The irony is that it is the refusal of our governments to allow proper classification of video games that is seeing material that would best be classified as 18+ being made available to 15 year olds because that is the highest classification available.

Creating a R18+ classification for video games has nothing to do with banning them, rather it will treat games the same way that we do media like movies and television and acknowledge that different content is appropriate for different audiences.

Centro:

Justin Templer writes: Re. “Centro ruling a ‘burden on directors’: Gonski” (yesterday, item 19). In his interview with the AFR, David Gonski (Chairman of ASX) suggests that requiring company directors to concern themselves with whether procedures were followed and checked will reduce the potential “richness” that a board can provide.

That’s just fine David.  But I would suggest that many investors in Centro would be “richer” if the board had paid more attention to whether investors were being told that the enormous amount of debt that funded this speculative asset play was due within the next 12 months instead of sometime thereafter.

It is extraordinary that, even after Centro was brought to its knees by the (incorrectly disclosed) short term nature of its debt, there are still those who suggest that this is the sort of pettifogging detail with which a modern company director should not be bothered.

Peter Fray

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