One Nation’s Pauline Hanson will be interviewed by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) next week over a drone operating incident which could see her fined up to $9,000.
A video shared by Senator Hanson on her own social media platforms captured her flying the device from the balcony of a high-rise building in Townsville.
In the footage, Senator Hanson claims the drone did not belong to her but “James”, understood to be her right-hand man, James Ashby, and that she was a first-time flyer.
She can be heard saying that as long as the drone was kept below 400 feet (120 metres), she would be abiding by the law.
However, CASA made contact with Senator Hanson’s office on Thursday, they confirmed to The New Daily, and they will meet with each other next week.
Law professor at the University of Canberra, Bruce Arnold, told The New Daily it appeared Senator Hanson had “breached the rules” governing drone use.
Watch the video below
— Pauline Hanson (@PaulineHansonOz) July 5, 2017
“CASA, the national regulator has fined recreational users who have breached the rules … Ms Hanson appears to have breached the rules,” he said.
“A drone must not fly closer than 30 metres to buildings, vehicles or people.
“It is not allowed to fly over ‘populous’ areas … Drones must not be flown higher than 400 feet (about 120 metres) above the ground in controlled airspace.”
Fines range from around $900 to, if the matter goes to court, up to $9,000.
Labor Senator Glenn Sterle, chairman of a panel examining drone use and safety guidelines, called on authorities to bring the full force of the law against Ms Hanson.
“Senator Hanson is clearly in violation of some if not more of these regulations and should be penalised by CASA immediately”, he said
“If she was aware of this regulation, why didn’t she follow the others?” Senator Sterle asked.
“I call on CASA to investigate this matter and penalise Senator Hanson, just as they would to any other civilian caught being in breach of the regulations.”
Professor Arnold said one of the reasons such restrictive laws were in place was to avoid the “danger of injury” if the operator loses control, or there is an equipment malfunction.
“The drone could crash down onto a pedestrian, motorcyclist or through a car’s windscreen,” he said.
“The Australian Law Reform Commission has recommended restrictions on the use of drones for private surveillance.
“Overall Australian law still has not got to grips with the scope for drones to hover outside a window and transmit what is happening inside.”
CASA spokesman Peter Gibson said Senator Hanson would be given the chance to tell her side of the story next week.
“After that, [we’ll] determine what action to take — investigate or counsel,” he told The New Daily.
“The video is a timely reminder of the importance of always following the drone safety rules.
“You must fly recreational drones more than 30 metres from people, not over crowds or groups of people, not cause a hazard to people, property or aircraft and stay under 400 feet (about 120 metres) in controlled airspace.
“You must not fly on the approach or departure paths of airports.”
In a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Mr Gibson added: “Everyone who flies a drone must understand their responsibilities … or they could face action.”
Senator Hanson’s chief of staff, Mr Ashby, told The New Daily the controversial politician had complied with CASA regulations.
“Senator Hanson was flying the DJI Mavic drone outside of the three nautical mile radius of the Townsville control tower,” he said.
“The drone the Senator was operating is classified as very small RPA [remotely piloted aircraft] and weighs approximately 600 grams.
“We appreciate the concerns some … may have expressed, however safety was the Senator’s first priority.”