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Thursday, 1 December 1938

Mr Curtin n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

Does the Government intend to take any action to unify the railway gauge from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle?

Mr Lyons - The unification of railway gauges in Australia has been listed by the Commonwealth on the agenda for the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers for Transport which it is expected will be held early next year.

Loss of Air Liner " Kyeema " : Evidence at Inquiry.

Mr Sheehan n asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -

1.   Is it a fact that at the inquiry into the Kyeema disaster a report by the Superintendent of Flying Operations (Lieutenant D. Boss) was submitted on the 8th November as evidence, and that the report stated that Avro- Anson aircraft had been found unsuitable for testing Lorenz beacons because they were subject to rudder and aileron trouble, that the petrol and oil tanks were not dependable, and that the windows of' one aeroplane had been blown out during a flight?

2.   Is it a fact that the chairman of the inquiry instructed the press not to report this evidence ?

3.   If so, by what authority did the chairman suppress evidence given at a public inquiry?

4.   Is it in the public interest to suppress evidence regarding the general airworthiness of aircraft in which young Australians arc asked to risk their lives daily?

Mr Thorby - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : -

1.   One of the files submitted as evidence before the Air Accidents Investigation Committee inquiring into the Kyeema accident contained a report by the Superintendent of Flying Operations of the Civil Aviation Board, dated November, 1937. . This report was directed to the question of the suitability of Avro-Anson machines for testing the ultrashort wave beacons. The writer of this report is not a technical officer, has not been employed in the Air Force for many years past and therefore could not be informed on the technical aspects of the Avro-Ansons. This report was submitted to the Civil Aviation Board without any reference to the Air Board, which board knows of no technical defect existing in the Avro-Anson aircraft.

2.   Yes.

3.   The committee took this action on its own responsibility and I repeat again that the Government issued no instructions to the committee as to what evidence should be published or not published.

4.   It would be improper for the Government to question the action of an independent committee of inquiry as to the evidence which it would have placed before it. As already stated in answer to the honorable member's question of the 10th November, I stated that the counsel of various parties represented at the inquiry agreed as to what should appear in the shorthand notes regarding tlie suitability of the Avro-Anson for testing the radio beacon.

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