The restrictions suffered by the colour defective pilots of this country have certainly had some publicity in the last five weeks. The result of my AAT appeal was well reported by ABC National radio news and some of the major capital city newspapers. I had two radio interviews and all in all, I have had very encouraging support from the public. Even some Departmental people have expressed support for the campaign to do away with colour vision restrictions. They have to be rather secret about it though, since the Department can be quite punitive to its own employees who don't follow the part line.
It's quite clear that Central Office is not at all happy about the outcome of my appeal. They have embarked on a campaign to try to make my win a hollow victory. However, the only effect that will have is to make them look even sillier than they have to date. I have started my night flying and there is nothing that they can do to stop me without looking vindictive and petty.
It has to be kept in mind that we are not dealing with ordinary, everyday, reasonable people. These bureaucrats have one prime goal to protect their power. My challenge to the colour perception standard is seen by them as a real threat to their unbridled right to rule at will, regardless of fact or reason. This problem, of course, goes far beyond the colour vision issue, and was widely canvassed by Dick Smith. I have decided not to become distracted by other issues, as I feel Dick did, but to concentrate entirely on the colour vision policy.
I am pleased to report that I had an interview with Peter Duncan MP, the junior minister responsible for aviation. He appears to be pretty sympathetic and determined to see that real reform does take place in the Department. He certainly gave me a better hearing on colour vision than any previous minister and he appeared to understand the issues clearly. I think it would be of value for each of us to write to him in Canberra and complain about the irrational discrimination the Department inflicts on colour defective pilots.
Today I received a letter from Senator Norm Sanders, stating that he had asked a question in the Senate about the matter (copy enclosed). It will be interesting to see what reply is forthcoming. I have demanded that the Department lift immediately the ban on night training by colour defective pilots. Of all the ludicrous aspects of the colour vision policy, that would have to be the ultimate in stupidity, and is totally indefensible. They are obliged to answer the request and I will publish their reply. I might add that AOPA has taken this issue to its bosom and will lobby for its removal.
The financial side of the struggle is still a big worry to me. I have spent some $27,000 in legal expenses so far, with $7,000 of external support. The solution to the money problem surely must come from colour defective pilots. Some have contributed very generously. The only way a campaign can succeed is if we all get thoroughly behind it. I am absolutely certain that there will never be a better time to attack the iniquitous "Standard" than now. But I need more support. Some have given extremely generously, others not at all, so please help out if you can. I hate asking for money, but without it there can be no success. All contributions have been accurately recorded, but as I am working on this alone, I have not had time to acknowledge the donations individually.
Another absolutely important side of the struggle is to make ALL colour defective pilots aware of the campaign. Some of you have placed ads in your local newspapers to assist this aim. Perhaps others could do the same. To have a truly effective lobby group, I reckon we need a minimum of three hundred "members". So could we all try to make as many other colour defective pilots (and for that matter, colour-normal pilots) aware of the situation.
Over the coming months it is my intention to keep maximum pressure on the Department by asking specific technical questions about the colour perception standard. There were many weaknesses uncovered in the so called "scientific" basis for the standard during my appeal. Additionally, political pressure can be brought to bear by each of us. It is well worthwhile informing your local Member of Parliament about the discrimination we all suffer.
As time goes on, the increased public awareness, and particularly the increased awareness within the aviation industry will be of great value. It would be very worthwhile if we all started to voice our disgust with the deal we are getting from the Department through, say, the letters to the editor of AOPA. So, please, take up your pens and write! Remember, feelings against the Department are running hot at the moment. They are being seen (and rightly so) as bureaucratic thugs.
It is not yet clear what course we should take next year. That will obviously depend on many factors. But if, as I suspect, the Department digs its heels in and refuses to radically improve the standard, then no doubt we will have to look to the courts again for any progress to be made. I suggest that when it comes to that, we should mount a legal campaign along the lines of a "class action", with several well chosen representative pilots appealing at the one sitting of the AAT. For that to happen would take a great deal of planning and organisation.
I know for certain that Mr Laurie Gruzman Q.C., undoubtedly the best aviation legal man in the land and himself a colour defective pilot of immense experience, would take the case on. I will leave it at that for now. Please, if you have any suggestions write and make them (or ring me!).
Printed below is a copy of the letter from Senator Norm Sanders as referred to in Dr Pape's article above.
Senator Norm Sanders Senator for Tasmania
18 Gregory Street, .Sandy Bay, Tasmania 7005 Tel. (002) 23 5644
Dear Dr Pape,
Congratulations on your victory over the bureaucrats! Enclosed is a question I asked to stir the pot a bit
Hang in there, Norm Sanders (U.S. Commercial, Flight Instructor, etc.)
NOTICE OF QUESTION
On Thursday, the 19th of Nov., Senator Norm Sanders:
To ask the Minister for/Minister representing the Minister for Aviation……..
1. Now that the Administrative Appeals Tribunal has decided that the Department of Aviation must allow a colour blind pilot, Arthur Pape, to fly at night, will the Department now amend procedures to remove restrictions for all colour blind pilots?
2. If not, why not?
3. Why did the Department make the totally unrealistic demand that Arthur Pape have a fully TSO'D second VHF radio on an independent electrical bus?
4. Will the Department take steps to change obstruction lights from flashing red to flashing white to remove any possible difficulties encountered by colour-blind pilots?
5. If not, why not?