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Thursday, 21 May 1970

Mr SINCLAIR (New England) (Minister for Shipping and Transport) - The honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) has referred to a number of questions outstanding on the notice paper. These relate to the circumstances of the fire which occurred at the Whyalla shipbuilding yard. An inquiry has been conducted by my department and there is also an inquiry, as yet incomplete, being conducted by the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. I can easily answer the questions to which the honourable gentleman refers. However, I intend to try to cover the whole circumstances, not only of the fire but also of the general effect that this will have on future shipbuilding programmes in Whyalla. This seems to me to be of major importance. There has been a decision by the

South Australian Government not to conduct a coroner's inquiry, which would be the normal form of legal inquiry. This indicates that from its preliminary assessment there has been no criminal negligence on the part of anyone involved. It is also an indication that the retrospective inquiry is not as significant as the prospective one. However, I will undertake to make a statement in this House on the matter as soon as I can.

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