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Tuesday, 31 May 1994
Page: 990

(Question No. 1289)

Senator Ian Macdonald asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 30 March 1994:

  In response to a question raised during an Estimates Committee A hearing held on 25 February 1994 (Senate Hansard, 25 February 1994, Estimates Committee A, page 115), seeking details of methods of surveillance of regional airlines (and, in particular, the provisions of specific details of investigations in relation to Monarch Airlines Limited) the department advised that the request for specific details falls within a ruling by the chairman of the estimates committee hearing on 15 November 1993 as being specific matters which may be the subject of a forthcoming coronial inquiry and any subsequent litigation.

  Given that the provision of this information in no way prejudices the outcome of any coronial inquiry or any subsequent litigation, please provide the detail requested.

Senator Collins —The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

  The information sought by Senator Macdonald on the specific details of investigations in relation to Monarch Airlines Limited clearly forms part of the investigation being conducted by the Bureau of Air Safety Investigation and the work to be carried out during the coronial inquiry.

  It is therefore inappropriate at this stage to provide this material.

  This view was supported by the advice from the Clerk of the Senate to the Chair of Senate Estimates Committee E on 1 November 1993. He noted that there is a problem of inquiries by investigatory agencies being prejudiced by parliamentary debate or inquiry. He also noted that there was the possibility of prejudice to proceedings arising in relation to (coronial) inquests.

  The Bureau of Air Safety Investigation has recently issued a final draft report on the crash of the Monarch Airlines aircraft to designated interested parties directly involved in the accident and/or its immediate aftermath.

  In accordance with the Air Navigation Regulations this is not a public release document. Interested parties have 21 days to make comment to the Bureau on the content and findings of the draft accident report. Those comments may lead to modification of the draft report.

  A copy of the final draft report was made available to the Shadow Minister for Transport, Mr Sharp after Mr Sharp provided a written undertaking that he would treat the draft report on a confidential basis and for his information only. It should be noted that any public disclosure, or passing the document on to anyone else, constitutes a breach of Air Navigation Regulations.

  It is intended that the final report will be publicly released in July. A copy will be provided to Senator Macdonald.

  The coronial inquiry is scheduled to commence in August this year.