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Monday, 24 May 1993
Page: 1067

Senator BOSWELL —My question is addressed to the Minister for Transport and Communications. I refer the Minister to an incident that occurred at the Brisbane airport in July 1992 when an Ansett 727 blew an engine and was forced to return. During the emergency procedures, events took place that were reminiscent of the Keystone Cops. The senior operator control officer position had been abolished and no response was obtained at his phone. The metropolitan fire brigade dispatched two units to a locked gate and were denied access. Three airport fire brigades were dispatched from their holding point; one drove into a ditch and was rendered inoperative. The metropolitan police learned about the incident over the commercial radio and arrived 1 1/2 hours later. In view of the very serious nature of the lack of emergency procedures, can the Minister advise why there has been no surveillance by the CAA of the airport emergency plans? Will the Minister table all documents concerning this extremely serious matter?

Senator COLLINS —This issue was canvassed at some length during the estimates committee hearings, and I am sorry that Senator Boswell was not made aware of that. But the situation is that this incident, which was a serious one, has been fully—

Senator Herron —Very serious!

Senator COLLINS —All right, very serious. In fact, I was advised afterwards that Senator Herron was on board and, I am told, turned a whiter shade of pale, as I would have too. The important thing about this incident is that it was thoroughly investigated by the Bureau of Air Safety Investigation. That report has now been completed in its draft form and, in the usual way, is being exposed for comment to the agencies involved. It will be available in its completed form by the end of this month. Of course, these are public documents but I will ensure that Senator Boswell personally gets a copy of it. If Senator MacGibbon thinks it is desirable, I can ensure that it is brought back to the Senate.

Senator MacGibbon —I might have one already, Minister.

Senator COLLINS —But the report, as I say, will be a public document and all of the issues canvassed by Senator Boswell in his question are addressed in the report.