Millionaire adventurer Dick Smith is threatening to get into politics

Vote 1 Dick. Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Australian-made advocate, adventurer, pilot and one-time electronics entrepreneur Dick Smith is threatening to launch a political party aimed at the Senate unless he sees reform at CASA (Civil Aviation and Safety Authority) and in the government’s general aviation policy.

Smith announced during the launch of the Salvation Army’s Red Shield Appeal today that he has registered the business name The Dick Smith Party. The adventurer and pilot, who founded Dick Smith Electronics, and went on to launch Dick Smith Foods in 1999, has been a vociferous critic of the Australian aviation industry’s regulators and told Business Insider he was frustrated by the bureaucracy and its rules.

“If the government doesn’t do what it said it would do and remove red tape, then we’ll look at standing candidates,” he said.

“Starting a political party is the last thing I want to do, but if I have to, I will”.

The 71-year-old says he won’t be standing or putting money into the party, which has yet to be registered, just his time.

“We’ll have some good policies and some great young people as candidates,” he said.

Smith has long campaigned against the foreign ownership of Australian companies, and for a cap on population growth.

He says general aviation is being driven to the wall by over-regulation and desperately needs reform, but it’s being stymied.

“There a one-way ratchet of increasing bureaucracy. I see the industry, which I love, being destroyed by increasing red tape and costs,” he said.

“I was out at Bankstown [airport] the other day, where there were thriving flying schools, and now I’m peering into locked hangars.”

Smith says he reached the tipping point last year, when new compliance regulations for private pilots, known as Part 61, were introduced.

“It’s the complete opposite to removing red tape, instead adding millions of dollars in compliance costs for the industry, but with no safety reason.

“It will increase my flying costs by about $5000 a year and I’m just a private pilot. Now I can afford it, but this will further destroy an industry that could be employing thousands of Australians,” Smith said.

“The Coalition said they were going to do something about it two elections ago. I’m sure the prime minister is as frustrated as I am.”

At the Red Shield Appeal launch, Smith continued his philanthropy, donating $100,000 to the Salvos, and pointing out that around 200 Australians making more than $1 million annually did not donate to charity.

The Salvation Army hopes to raise $74 million from the 2015 Red Appeal. The annual door knock is May 30-31.

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