As an example of the type of matter in which aviation expert witness services can be provided, extracts from Judge Rackemann’s decision in Ward & Anor v Rockhampton Regional Council & Anor [2014] QPEC 67 are copied below.

Keith appeared on behalf of the Submitters as an expert in aviation safety. The engagement included attending mediation meetings, preparing a joint expert report, preparing a trial statement, attending trial and providing post-trial expert advice.

The Appeals
Appeal number 205 of 2013 is a submitter appeal in which Jeffrey Gordon James Ward (Ward) and Leanne Maree Lever (Lever) challenge the decision of the former Rockhampton Regional Council (which is now the responsibility of Livingstone Shire Council) (“Council”) to conditionally approve a development application made by R C Toole Pty Ltd (Toole).

The application sought a development permit for the making of a material change of use to facilitate a private airstrip including hangars for six aircraft and an aviation fuel storage and dispensing facility (airstrip).

The airstrip is not lit. It would operate in daylight hours only. The airstrip is “private” in the sense of it not being open to the public. It would only be available to those whom the operator permits to use it. The airstrip would be operated in accordance with a management plan and conditions of approval.

Appeal number 4896 of 2012 is an appeal by Toole against some conditions of the Council’s approval. Those conditions may generally be described as intended to restrict the use to a “low key” facility. The Council wants the facility to be for “private use” in the sense of being restricted to use by the owner for his/her purposes and excluding the rental of hangars and the sale of fuel.

The Council’s position is that the use of the airstrip for Toole’s purposes does not exclude occasional bona fide social visits by personal friends who also happen to be pilots. It does not exclude a personal friend who is visiting the Yeppoon locality, and who happens to be a pilot, from landing at the airstrip and leaving his or her plane parked there for the duration of the visit.

To the extent that any person who has some genuine business to conduct with Toole travels by light plane, that use is also not excluded under the position advocated by the Council. It is opposed, however, to the Toole proposal which involves other aeroplane operators being able to hangar their planes on the subject site, in a lockup facility, coming and going as they please for their own purposes, which have nothing to do with any use of the land by the owner, or for the purposes of the owner, and nothing to do with any personal, social or business interaction with the owner.

Mrs Lever and Mr Ward are wholly opposed to the airstrip.


Toole failed to discharge the onus of showing that the application should be approved. The submitter appeal will be allowed. It is unnecessary to deal with the disputes as to conditions. The conditions appeal will be dismissed on the limited ground that there will be no development approval.