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Tuesday, 21 September 1999
Page: 8585


Senator O'Brien asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, upon notice, on 5 August 1999:

(1) Has the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) investigated the safety problems associated with a multiplicity of interfering signals from many radiating 121.5 megahertz emergency beacons within a small area as occurred in the 1998 Sydney to Hobart yacht race; if so:

(a) has the investigation been completed;

(b) what other agencies and organisations were involved in the investigation; and

(c) what was the outcome of the investigation.

(2) Can a copy be provided of the report of the investigation.

(3) If there has been no investigation by AMSA of this matter, why not.


Senator Ian Macdonald (Regional Services, Territories and Local Government) —The Minister for Transport and Regional Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Following the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) conducted a questionnaire of aircraft pilots involved in the search and rescue effort. The purpose of the questionnaire was to establish whether lessons could be learned from their experiences and observations. Of the 52 questions in the questionnaire, two related to the effects of multiple signals from emergency beacons in the search area.

In addition AMSA has responded to the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's (CYCA) investigation of the race. AMSA's advice relating to multiple beacon signals is reflected in the CYCA's `Report of the 1998 Sydney Hobart Race Review Committee'.

AMSA is also assisting with the Coronial Inquest into the race and has provided material on emergency beacons, to the Inquest.

(a) AMSA's questionnaire of pilots involved in the search and rescue effort is complete.

(b) Apart from the pilots involved in the search and rescue effort, no other agencies or organisations were involved in AMSA's questionnaire.

(c) Nine of the 13 respondents indicated that search aircraft experienced difficulties because of the multiple beacon signals. Three survey responses also provided some suggestions as to how such difficulties might be alleviated in future incidents. This information has been taken directly from the two relevant questions contained in the survey.

(2) AMSA has not prepared a report of its questionnaire of aircraft pilots involved in the search and rescue effort.

(3) Refer to Question 1.