The Ministry of Transport, Civil Aviation Authority and Maritime New Zealand have been working together on the Clear Heads initiative. Part of this work has been to develop amendments for the Civil Aviation Act 1990 and the Maritime Transport Act 1994.

Maritime Transport Amendment Bill

The Maritime Transport Amendment Bill had its first reading in Parliament on 16 November 2016. It has now been referred to the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee.

The Bill makes amendments to the Maritime Transport Bill 1994  across a number of policy areas, including Clear Heads. It will enable the introduction of random testing and require commercial maritime operators to have Drug and Alcohol Management Plans.

Find more information on how to make a submission.(external link)


On 10 February 2016, the Government announced changes to the commercial aviation and maritime sectors.

Once the changes are introduced, operators in these sectors will be required to have drug and alcohol management plans. These plans need to be agreed with the Civil Aviation Authority or Maritime New Zealand, and must include random drug and alcohol testing of staff performing safety sensitive activities.

The Directors of Civil Aviation and Maritime New Zealand will have the power to undertake non-notified testing of safety sensitive staff in the commercial aviation and maritime sectors.

These changes are designed to assure passengers and crew that their aviation and maritime operations are safe and free from drug and alcohol impairment.

The changes reflect the feedback received through consultation by the Ministry of Transport on Clear heads: options to reduce the risks of alcohol- and drug-related impairment in aviation, maritime and rail.

The Clear heads discussion paper was a response to the 31 October 2013 Transport Accident Investigation Commission report on the 2012 Carterton hot-air balloon accident, in which 11 people lost their lives. The Commission recommended regulatory changes to strengthen the management of alcohol and drugs in the aviation, maritime and rail sectors.

The Ministry believes there should be zero tolerance of operator impairment where members of the public are being transported by sea, rail and air.

Clear heads discussion paper

Clear heads [PDF, 766 KB] – full discussion paper

Clear heads section one [PDF, 286 KB] – summary report

Clear heads section two [PDF, 361 KB] – background to the issues

Clear heads section three [PDF, 397 KB] – the commercial sector

Clear heads section four [PDF, 289 KB] – the recreational sector

Clear heads section five [PDF, 253 KB] – post-occurrence testing for all

Clear heads section six [PDF, 371 KB] – supporting material

A cross-modal risk analysis of substance impairment [PDF, 1.1 MB] – NZIER report commissioned by the Ministry of Transport. The report provides an assessment of the relative risk of fatalities across transport modes where alcohol and drug impairment are contributing factors in accidents

The Commission’s final report following its investigation into the Carterton hot-air balloon accident can be found on the Commission’s website here: link)