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Thursday, 14 June 1984
Page: 2993

Senator JACK EVANS(10.58) —To put the matter into context I state that the Australian Democrats will support the Air Navigation Amendment Bill 1984 despite the fact that it may appear to contravene freedom of information provisions-a flag which we fly very high on our mast. I make it clear that this is an unusual matter which deserves to be treated as an exception to the normal freedom of information provisions. The Bill simply provides that what is known as the black box or the cockpit voice recorder is in place with the agreement of the pilots to provide safety measures and to give some opportunity to assess future safety measures that may come out of accidents in the air. It is not there for any other purpose as far as the pilots are concerned. They are happy with the black box being there. It records discussion and a lot of other factors which are important to civil aviation safety measures . Even under the provisions going through today the recorder can still be used for litigation provided the pilots themselves are not involved in that litigation. In other words, if for instance there was an attempted hijack, or if for some reason an airline company was subject to litigation, it might be possible to have the cockpit voice recorder used. But it is important that pilots be aware that they have that absolute freedom to speak frankly and to give all of the information which is likely to help in the event of an inquiry ever becoming necessary. That freedom will be ensured as a result of the passage of this legislation.