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Thursday, 10 October 1985
Page: 990

Senator MORRIS —The Minister representing the Minister for Aviation would be aware of the crash of a Pelair jet airliner at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport this morning killing the two pilots. In view of the curfew on jet aircraft at Mascot and the fact that it was a Pelair aircraft that has apparently been investigated in New Guinea recently in respect of possible drug trafficking, is there anything unusual in this crash?

Senator GIETZELT —The Senate would be aware that a light aircraft crashed in Botany Bay in the early hours of this morning killing both pilots, as they have been described in the media. I think it would be true to say, as Senator Morris has suggested, and certainly it is my view, that it is rather unusual for a plane to be departing from Kingsford-Smith Airport at that early hour of the morning when most of the airport, I imagine, would be not particularly active. However, whether small aircraft are outside the curfew arrangements would be a matter that I would have to refer to the Minister for Aviation to see what the circumstances were in respect of the departure of that plane.

According to the media, the plane was owned by Pelair, which is a company currently the subject of an inquiry by the Papua New Guinea Government. I am not in a position to make any judgment whether there is any connection with that, except that one of the principals involved in the inquiry being conducted in New Guinea was a Mr Aston, a Sydney solicitor, who, according to all the evidence before the various drug inquiries, was very actively involved in that trade. However, I appreciate that there is a curfew operating at Mascot airfield which certainly applies to large aircraft. I will seek information about whether it applies to small aircraft and convey it to Senator Morris in due course.