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Wednesday, 17 November 1993
Page: 3028

Senator WEST (3.23 p.m.) —I had not wanted to enter into this, but I will, as the person who chaired the estimates committee. I found this a most difficult and trying thing to have to do because I do not feel that an estimates committee is the correct venue for the airing of such things as questions, half-truths and rumours which eventually will be sorted out by a coronial inquiry, which in the state of New South Wales may or may not have a jury present as well.

  This airline crash is a tragedy—as are all airline crashes—to all of the people who were involved. But, because this one affected reasonably small communities in southern New South Wales and killed people who were known there—and killed someone whom I knew very well and for whom I had a great deal of respect; in fact, a member of the Liberal Party, but a person of the utmost integrity—it had an effect upon those communities which is very hard for people who live in larger communities to understand, because everybody knows and loves the people who are affected.

   This sort of rehashing and exposing of rumour, half-truth and innuendo does nothing to clarify the situation. The people who should be doing that are the professionals who are employed to do that and who are qualified to do that—the Bureau of Air Safety Investigation, the police force and the coroner. As far as I am concerned, those are the people who should be given carte blanche to go into this. I do not think that it is particularly edifying here in this chamber for us to get into these slanging matches or for people to have to rely on their own transcripts of what they allege is evidence and questioning. I do not think that helps this situation one little bit.

  Senator Ian Macdonald interjecting

Senator Collins —You are a pig and an oaf, Macdonald.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Collins, I would be ever so grateful, and so would everybody in the Senate, if you would withdraw that.

Senator Collins —I withdraw.

Senator WEST —I wish that in this situation we could leave the investigations to the professionals to sort out. I wish that we could sit back with dignity and grieve with the families and the communities that are grieving and allow the coroner, in a professional and dignified manner, to look at the evidence and to find out what did happen.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.