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Thursday, 17 February 1977
Page: 177

Mr BIRNEY (PHILLIP, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is the Minister for Transport aware that the extent of a recent fire on a Sydney train was mainly attributable to the presence of a highly flammable material- polyurethane- in the train seats? Does the composition of aeroplane seats used on Australian airliners include this substance? If so, does he regard its presence as a safety hazard? Is remedial action contemplated? Is there any need for public concern relative to any of the materials used in the manufacture of such seats?

Mr NIXON (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) (Minister for Transport) - I am aware that it is asserted that the fire in the train in Sydney recently was caused by polyurethane seats. I understand that tests have been undertaken by the New South Wales Transport Commission to prove or disprove that assertion. It is a fact that polyurethane is used in the manufacture of aircraft seats, but I am able to inform the honourable member that, happily, the polyurethane in aircraft seats is given some fire resistant treatment that satisfies the Department of Transport in respect of the prospect of fire. The polyurethane seats in aircraft throughout Australia are quite safe. I think that during the period of office of my predecessor steps were taken to set up procedures to test flammable materials in aircraft, and polyurethane seats were subject to those overall tests. Therefore, the safety standards of Australian aircraft are very high.

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