Another Perspective On User Fees -- Oz's Could Quadruple

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With the debate over user fees for GA gathering steam here in the U.S., the issue is playing out in a more extreme form down under, where Australian GA pilots face a fourfold increase in the fees they pay for government services. "This is getting very, very scary and more to the point, it's proving that CASA [Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority] is not capable of regulating aviation any more," said Ron Bertram, president of the Australian unit of AOPA. CASA executive Bruce Gemmell said last week that his agency needs to boost annual revenues from the industry from $5 million to $20 million by 2008-2009, The Australian reported on Friday. Bertram responded that hikes on that scale would not only threaten GA's economic survival, but also raise safety issues. "If you can't afford it, what happens? Do you operate unsafely?" he asked.