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Tuesday, 13 May 1997
Page: 3408

(Question No. 1046)


Mr Peter Morris asked the Minister for Transport and Regional Development, upon notice, on 9 December 1996:

(1) What was the total cost incurred by the Commonwealth in relation to the appointment and conduct of the Commission of Inquiry into the Seaview Airlines disaster carried out by Mr J. Staunton.

(2) In relation to the inquiry, what were the total (a) legal costs met by the Commonwealth in respect of each of the parties involved, (b) sums paid to each of the participating legal firms and (c) costs of a non-legal nature.


Mr Sharp —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) The total cost incurred by the Commonwealth in relation to the appointment and conduct of the Commission of Inquiry into the Seaview Airlines disaster carried out by Mr J. Staunton was as follows:

1994/95 Financial Year$2,931,977.00
1995/96 Financial Year$3,812,887.62
1996/97 Financial Year$1,340,336.77
TOTAL$8,085,201.39

   These figures include an allocation for the instructing solicitors at the Commission. The Commission of Inquiry commenced on 25 October 1994 and ceased on 30 September 1996.

(2) For the inquiry, the total

(a) legal costs met by the Commonwealth in respect of each of the parties involved, were:

Attorney-General's Department

The Attorney-General has advised as follows in respect of question on notice 1046(2) in relation to his portfolio responsibilities to provide financial assistance to persons appearing before Commissions of Inquiry:

There exists a long-standing practice, endorsed by successive Attorneys-General, to treat applica-

tions for financial assistance in confidence. This practice extends to neither confirming nor denying that particular applications have been received and accords with the requirements of the Privacy Act 1988.

Consequently it would not be appropriate to provide details in relation to any individual applications for assistance for legal representation before the Commission.

A total amount of $4.07 million was spent in providing legal assistance for parties appearing before the Inquiry.

Department of Transport and Regional Development

The Department of Transport and Regional Development incurred legal costs as follows:

Professional legal fees$270,702.94
Disbursements $14,979.29
TOTAL$285,682.23

Airservices Australia

No monies were incurred by the Commonwealth in respect of representation of Airservices Australia.

Civil Aviation Safety Authority

No monies were incurred by the Commonwealth in respect of representation of Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

(b) sums paid to each of the participating legal firms

Attorney-General's Department

Please see the response to question 2(a).

Airservices Australia

When the Commission of Inquiry was established, the Civil Aviation Authority, including the former regulatory arm, the Directorate of Aviation Safety Regulation, was still in existence. In July 1995, by virtue of regulation 14 of the Civil

Aviation Legislation (Transitional Provisions) Regulations (Amendment) (Statutory Rules 1995, No. 227 of 1995), Airservices Australia then had the financial responsibility for providing legal representation with respect to the Commission of Inquiry for:

(a) the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA)

(b) Members of the Board of CASA

(c) the Director and staff of CASA

(d) Former members of the Board of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)

(e) Former Chief Executive Officers and Employees of the CAA

(f) Airservices Australia (Airservices)

(g) Members of the Board of Airservices and

(h) Chief Executive Officers and Employees of Airservices.

Name of FirmAmount PaidRepresenting
Coors Chambers Westgarth$2,579,885.00Civil Aviation Authority from October 1994 to July 1995 and from July 1995, Airservices Australia and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority
US Experts$97,101.00Civil Aviation Authority from October 1994 to July 1995 and from July 1995, Airservices Australia and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority
US Attorneys$3,295.00Civil Aviation Authority from October 1994 to July 1995 and from July 1995, Airservices Australia and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority
Senior and Junior Counsel$1,509,194.00 Civil Aviation Authority from October 1994 to July 1995 and from July 1995, Airservices Australia and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority
TOTAL$4,189,475.00
Minter Ellison$1,985,123.00CASA/Airservices Employees
Senior and Junior Counsel$1,112,115.00
TOTAL$3,097,238.00
Taylor Kearney Reed & Owen$57,885.00CASA/Airservices Employees
Counsel$32,220.00
TOTAL$90,105.00
Gary Robb & Associates$46,610.00CASA/Airservices Employees
Senior and Junior Counsel $324,814.00
TOTAL$371,424.00
Carneys $50,884.00CASA/Airservices Employees
Bowdens$7,228.00CASA/Airservices Employees
TOTAL PAID to Law Firms, Experts and Senior and Junior Counsel $7,806,354.00

   (c) costs of a non-legal nature

Department of Transport and Regional Development

The Department of Transport and Regional Development incurred $14,979.29 in disbursements which is included in the total legal costs met by the Commonwealth in respect of the Department and represented in the response to question 2(a) (above).

Airservices Australia

Costs incurred by Airservices Australia for non-legal matters amount to $669,128.00. This includes, for example, photocopying costs, travel, accommodation and meals.