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Monday, 30 November 1998
Page: 907

Senator MINCHIN (Industry, Science and Resources) (5:26 PM) —by leave—I move government amendments Nos 1 to 3:

(1) Clause 90, page 53 (line 24), omit `or gives a thing'.

(2) Clause 90, page 53 (line 25), omit `or thing' (first occurring).

(3) Clause 90, page 53 (after line 28), after subclause (5), insert:

(5A) If a person gives a thing in accordance with subsection (1), the thing, and any information or thing obtained directly or indirectly as a result, is not admissible in evidence against the person in a criminal proceeding or in a proceeding for the recovery of a penalty.

At present, no information or thing given to an investigator of an accident by a person under clause 90(1) is admissible as evidence in proceedings of any kind. The purpose of these provisions is to encourage cooperation with the investigator by persons who may possess information or material items relevant to an investigation. Ensuring that such persons bring forward information or items, rather than withhold them through fear of implication in legal proceedings, has assisted investigators of aircraft accidents in determining their causes and in developing strategies for their future prevention.

The object of the amendments is to provide that anything given to the investigator of an accident may be admitted as evidence in civil proceedings which do not involve the recovery of a penalty. For example, in the unlikely event that there was a civil proceeding in which it was necessary to establish liability for damage caused by the launch or return of a space object, anything relevant to the determination of liability—for example, a piece of space object which might be used to determine the cause of mechanical failure—could be tendered in evidence. The proposed amendments do not prejudice the intention of the act to protect persons who give information, documentation or an object to an investigator from penalty through legal proceedings.