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Thursday, 25 November 1993
Page: 3668

Senator ELLISON —My question is directed to the Minister for Transport and Communications. Is it a fact that the regional manager, south-west region, flight operations, of the CAA refused to take advice given by the relevant assigned flying operations inspector that the air operators certificate for Monarch Airlines be withdrawn?

Senator COLLINS —Even if I knew the answer to that question—and I do not—it would be totally improper for me to provide it to the Senate. The matter has been canvassed at length. The Bureau of Air Safety Investigation is in the process of conducting an investigation into that entire incident.

Senator Ian Macdonald —The question has nothing to do with the incident.

Senator COLLINS —In response to the idiot interjection from Senator Macdonald, it is an absolutely central issue in the investigation. The investigation is about two months off being completed. When it is completed and the evidence collected, a public report will be provided. An interim report has already been released publicly by the Bureau of Air Safety Investigation, which Senator Macdonald was given a copy of. The Bureau of Air Safety Investigation has also released four interim recommendations for the Civil Aviation Authority as well, prior to the completion of its final report. When the final report is completed, it will be a public document and it will then be followed by a coronial inquiry at which the evidence will be collected.

  Therefore, the entire issue, as the Clerk has rightly indicated to the Senate in his advice, is sub judice and it would be irresponsible of me as the responsible minister to act in any other way. Individual senators can speculate and run on unsubstantiated assumptions as much as they like but as the minister, I cannot. I am sorry.