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Government leaves questions on Westralia unanswered.

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Senator Chris Evans Labor Senator for Western Australia Shadow Minister for Defence

9 December 2002


The Minister for Defence left unanswered serious concerns about the current West Australian Coronial inquest into the fire on the Westralia in which four sailors died.

The Minister should immediately explain why the Commonwealth argued for the inquest hearings to be held behind closed doors, contrary to the wishes of the families of the deceased.

Robert Hill’s claim that the Commonwealth did not put this argument is directly contradicted by the transcript from the hearing last week which explicitly notes that ‘extensive submissions’ for a closed hearing were put by the Commonwealth.

At the hearing the counsel assisting the inquest also noted that the Commonwealth has been uncooperative in providing information to the Coroner.

The families of the deceased sailors deserve a thorough investigation that examines all aspects of the fire.

Minister Hill must ensure that the Commonwealth provides full cooperation to the Coroner’s inquest.

For information: Chris Evans 0419 983 593 Tim Friedrich 0408 577 617