As established by the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003, the ATSB is an independent Commonwealth Government statutory agency, reporting to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government.
Australian Government Ministers issue Statements of Expectations to statutory agencies. Through issuing a Statement of Expectations, Ministers provide greater clarity about government policies and objectives relevant to that statutory authority, including the policies and priorities it is expected to observe in conducting its operations.
Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Catherine King, issued an updated Statement of Expectations for the ATSB with effect from 1 July 2023, replacing the previous SoE issued on 21 June 2021.
It represents a notice of strategic direction to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) under section 12AE of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 (the Act) and sets out our Minister’s views on the appropriate strategic direction for the ATSB.
I expect that the Chief Commissioner and other Commissioners will continue to enable and enhance the effective operation of the ATSB as Australia’s national transport safety investigator. I expect that the Chief Commissioner will keep the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts (the Department) and myself informed of the ATSB’s work, and promptly advise of any events or issues which may impact on the ATSB. To this end, I expect the ATSB to provide the Department and myself with quarterly progress reports on its activities.
I recognise that the nature of the ATSB requires its Commissioners and staff to have contemporary and extensive experience in the transport sector which can bring perceived or actual conflicts of interest. I expect the ATSB to continue to manage any conflicts of interest effectively and expect that the ATSB will publish its guidelines for the management of conflicts of interest on its website.
I expect the ATSB to perform its functions in accordance with the Act and the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, and other applicable legislation.
I expect that the ATSB’s resources will be used in a proper manner, following best practice principles and guidelines.
I expect the ATSB to perform its functions consistent with Australia’s international obligations, including the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organisation.
I expect the ATSB to work towards the timely finalisation of investigations to support continuous improvement in transport safety.
I expect the ATSB, in conducting its functions as Australia’s national transport safety investigator, will continue to:
(a) focus on improving transport safety as the highest priority;
(b) give priority to transport safety investigations that have the highest potential to deliver the greatest public benefit through improvements to transport safety;
(c) continue to participate in Australia’s transport safety policy and regulatory framework, working with the Department and other stakeholders, including the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), Airservices Australia, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR), the Department of Defence and the transport industry;
(d) be a global leader in transport safety investigation, research and analysis, and foster public awareness and education on transport safety;
and (e) continually review investigation policies and practices to ensure it remains a global best practice safety investigation agency, and advances the national and international safety agenda.
I expect the ATSB will focus on the following key initiatives:
(a) implement effective workforce planning, ensuring the ATSB has the skills and expertise to meet current and emerging challenges in transport safety investigation;
(b) provide a centre of excellence for transport safety investigation, including through partnerships with educational institutions;
(c) collaborate with other countries to improve accident investigation capability and compliance with international protocols;
(d) support the Commonwealth Government’s transport safety objectives in the Asia-Pacific region;
(e) continue its research activities, and collect and analyse data on topics with the most significant prospects of improved transport safety and the greatest public benefit;
and (g) provide input to Commonwealth Government reviews or inquiries regarding the ATSB’s operations and jurisdictions across different modes of transport, as required.
(h) work closely and constructively with the Department on the Review of Operations and Financial Sustainability of Australia’s Transport Safety and Investigatory Bodies announced in the 2023-24 Budget.
(i) work with me and the Department to implement any relevant actions arising from the Government’s Aviation White Paper.
I expect the ATSB to:
(a) effectively engage and communicate with stakeholders using targeted messaging through appropriate mediums, to influence positive safety action;
(b) work closely with the Department and other Government agencies, including CASA, Airservices Australia, AMSA and ONRSR to deliver integrated and comprehensive safety advice to Government, industry and the community; and
(c) engage closely with aviation, rail and maritime regulators and policy makers to ensure the appropriate sharing and use of safety information, with all arrangements being transparent to industry and consistent with a strong reporting culture.