[LINK] Project Wings in Canberra, the Law, and Public Opinion

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Sat Feb 2 13:39:12 AEDT 2019

[It's not easy to find anything much out about the exemptions that CASA 
have built into Project Wings' licence to operate in a succession of 
(now 4) locations in Canberra.

[I've now found:
 >Instrument number CASA EX82/18 dated 29 June 2018
which wasn't located by previous searches using the same terms.

[It doesn't appear in archive.org, despite frequent snapshots, 6 of them 
in Jan 2019 alone, the most recent 6 days ago on 27 Jan.  That suggests 
it's a very new posting, a good 7 months after being signed.

[Add to that:
-   searching on "Project Wing" at casa.gov.au finds *zero* hits
     (despite the phrase being in the Instrument on the web-site)
-   the Instrument does not refer to any prior exemptions

[So, given that Google Wings started the pilot in mid-2016, it appears 
that it was in breach of the law, unprosecuted, for 2 years to the end 
of June 2018.  (But then does anyone seriously believe that Australia 
operates under the rule of law ??).

[It's also not easy to find out what the operational results have been.

[It's not easy to find out what opinion polling results have been, nor 
even whether the permits provided to the company included an obligation 
to commission and publish opinion surveys.  Aren't such things 
fundamental to any technology impact assessment?

[Most of the scores of Canberra Times articles have been driven by 
Google media activities.  They've included comments by enthusiasts, 
perhaps provided by Google, perhaps not;  but they've also made 
reference to drone noise, and to general public disquiet about sound, 
surprise, safety and scope for observation.

[There are many very good applications of drones.  See:

[But it's unclear that 'good applications' includes the delivery of 
Cherry Ripes near Warwick (in 2014), or pizzas and pharmaceuticals in 
5-acre-block zones on the fringe, and then in several suburbs, of a city 
(2016-19).  And it's even less clear as to whether whatever benefits 
such activities offer outweigh the disbenefits.

[The Letter to the Editor below contains some assertions, about both 
noise and measured public opinion.]

Drone debate drags on as public anger drowned out
Letters to the editor
The Canberra Times
2 February 2019 — 12:00am

The ACT government and Project Wing can put whatever spin they like on 
its drone operations in the ACT.

The fact remains the people who have been subjected to these drone 
‘‘trials’’ have rejected them. The fact is that anyone who hasn’t been 
subjected to the drones is not qualified to comment. The people of 
Royalla rejected the drones. The people of Bonython have rejected the 
drones (80 per cent).

The people of Gungahlin will decide for themselves about the drones.

The people of Bonython feel unsafe, violated and angry. They were not 
asked how they felt about this.

No one is responsible for regulation/compliance enforcement of the noise 
of the drones. Drone noise has been measured at 80 decibels during a 
neighbourhood delivery on a weekend.

EPA regulations disallow weekend residential noise over 35 decibels. 
There is documented evidence of regulatory loopholes and lack of proper 
government oversight and due diligence in regards to the Project Wing 
Bonython drone ‘‘trial’’.

The enabling of Project Wing suburban drone delivery operations in the 
ACT smacks of business and governments running roughshod over the 
people. Sound familiar?

We live in a democracy: ‘‘government in which the supreme power is 
vested in the people and exercised by them directly.’’

That is why there is now an ACT Legislative Assembly Inquiry into Drone 
Delivery Systems in the ACT. Because the people have spoken.

Robyn McIntyre, Bonython

Roger Clarke                            mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
T: +61 2 6288 6916   http://www.xamax.com.au  http://www.rogerclarke.com

Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA 

Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Law            University of N.S.W.
Visiting Professor in Computer Science    Australian National University

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