Different drone laws trigger confusion and calls for uniformity
INCONSISTENT drone laws have created a confusing situation for recreational users– who could find themselves facing fines in one state and operating legally in another.
Civil Aviation Safety Authority regulations apply Australia-wide, there are still state-by-state differences pertaining to national parks and even council land.
In the case of Cameron Corner National Park, recreational users would be free to operate in the part of the park in Queensland, need permission from the park ranger for the part of the park that lies within New South Wales and face a $75 fine for operating in the national park area that is within South Australia.
In Alpine National Park, recreational users would need to apply and get a licence for a permit from the Victorian Government to operate a drone but in the park land that lies within NSW speaking to a ranger would be sufficient.
Western Australia authorities require users to seek written permission to operate a drone in a national park, even for recreational purposes, and Tasmania has banned recreational drones in national parks but is currently considering making some areas available to operators.
The wild variations in the law have prompted calls for Australian states and territories to adopt the same blanket ban on recreational drones in National Parks as the United States.
Victoria National Parks Association’s protection manager Phil Ingamells said it would be helpful for everyone to be on the same page so drone users know exactly where they stood.
” They’re an absolute nuisance,” Mr Ingamells said of drones.
” They have the same effect on birds and animals as an eagle– drones are like a predator in the sky.”
He said they were also difficult to police in national parks.
” It’s another burden on park rangers,” said Mr Ingamells.
Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesman Peter Gibson said although their own regulations for drone use applied across the country, it was up to individual states to decide how they could be operated on state-owned land.
” A uniform approach would require all state environment ministers sitting down and agreeing to pass complementary legislation,” said Mr Gibson.
” Our jobs is protecting people, property and other aircraft and anything other than that such as privacy is out of our jurisdiction.”
Maurice Blackburn aviation lawyer, Joseph Wheeler said a unified approach between states would help in the understanding of drone regulation.” People want to use them all over the place,” said Mr Wheeler.
” Defining areas where it’s not safe and safe (to use drones) could be used as a vital tool to teach people about aviation safety.”
He said the current Senate Inquiry into drone use and regulation needed to clarify the issue.
” There’s a lot of confusion in this country and that’s been compounded by a lot of very small drone operations,” Mr Wheeler said.
” The rules need to be significantly simplified and a new education campaign made to inform both commercial and recreational users.”