​Queensland opens drone strategy consultation

The state government has published a consultation paper on the future of drone technology in Queensland.


The Queensland government has published a consultation paper on plans to implement Australia's first whole-of-government Drones Strategy to address the technology's business opportunities and regulatory challenges.

According to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, feedback from the Queensland Drones Strategy Consultation Paper will be used to help direct future policy and determine how best to take advantage of the potential of drones in supporting economic and jobs growth.

"My government wants to take drone technologies to the next level and to see Queensland become a world leader in drone investment, research, and development," the premier said in a statement on Thursday.

"Our whole-of-government Drones Strategy will be the first of its kind in Australia, and will help to ensure we have the right policies and programs in place to back future technologies and create jobs."

The Queensland government already amended the Agricultural Chemicals Distribution Control Act 1966 in November to allow the state's farmers to use drones to spray their crops. The changes to the legislation and the regulations that underpin it are expected to give Queensland farmers access to the most "innovative aerial spraying technology" available.

Under the amended legislation, both producers and contractors using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will be required to comply with all label instructions when applying agricultural chemical products, as well as obtain required licences.

The legislation also requires that UAV spraying operations are only performed by pilots who are authorised by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and hold qualifications that demonstrate a suitable level of chemical application competency, Acting Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne explained at the time.

Prior to this, the state made a AU$1 million investment in remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) technology to benefit the LNG, agriculture, mining, energy, telecommunications, search and rescue, and environmental management industries.

The investment from the Queensland government was paid for out of the state's AU$405 million Advance Queensland kitty, which was handed an additional AU$225.2 million in the 2016-17 Budget.

"Our highly skilled workforce, world-class research and development capabilities, technical expertise, and Advance Queensland initiative has already put us in a very strong position, but to achieve this vision we need to work together," Palaszczuk added on Thursday.

Queensland Senator Pauline Hanson is set to be investigated by Australia's aviation watchdog after her One Nation party used a drone over Parliament House to take a video.

Labor Senator Glenn Sterle has asked CASA to look into whether the flight was illegal.

The video was posted on the party leader's Facebook page in June and included aerial shots of Parliament House and its surroundings. News footage shows Hanson's chief of staff James Ashby apparently controlling the drone with a remote control.

At a Senate committee hearing on Tuesday, CASA officials said the operation of a drone over Parliament House was "not appropriate" because it was within the control zone of Canberra Airport.

CASA chief Shane Carmody accepted Senator Sterle's request for an investigation and the committee has given CASA until September 13 to finish its inquiry.

Hanson also drew the attention of CASA in July after posting a video on social media of her flying a drone from a balcony over a street in Townsville.

Sterle said he was told by CASA it had finished an investigation into that incident and would not publish their findings due to privacy concerns.

With AAP