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Time for CASA to answer over Lockhart disaster

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Media Release SENATOR KERRY O’BRIEN SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT 5 November 2006 TIME FOR CASA TO ANSWER OVER LOCKHART DISASTER The time has come for Coalition Senators to back Labor’s demand for an inquiry into the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s failure to act against Transair before the May 2005 aviation disaster at Lockhart River that cost 15 lives. Next week Labor will again move to establish a Senate inquiry into CASA’s oversight of Transair and related matters. In Senate Estimates this week, Labor revealed that CASA had knowledge of Transair’s non-compliance with aviation safety regulations as far back as November 2001. Ongoing breaches were identified at audits in August 2004 and February 2005. An Enforceable Voluntary Undertaking between the company and CASA identified fourteen separate safety breaches and revealed CASA’s knowledge of the company’s “ongoing compliance and structural problems”. Only sustained Labor questioning forced CASA to reveal it had secretly suspended Transair’s Air Operator’s Certificate just last week. The question that must now be answered is why CASA failed to act seventeen months ago - before 15 lives were lost. In March this year, the Howard Government quashed Labor’s attempt to establish a Senate inquiry into CASA’s performance. Labor now calls on Coalition Senators to put the interests of the victims’ families and the travelling public ahead of the government’s political interests and support our move to establish a parliamentary inquiry. Contact: Kerry O’Brien 0419 007 780 David Tansey 0407 435 624