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Tuesday, 11 April 1972
Page: 907


Senator MAUNSELL (QUEENSLAND) - Has the attention of the Minister for Air been drawn to the Press statements appearing in the Sydney Morning Herald' and the Canberra Times* last week concerning the loss of a Royal Australian Air Force Orion aircraft in the United States of America during 1968? As those statements imply that the Australian Government has lost its case for compensation from the manufacturers, will the Minister inform the Senate of the present position?


Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - The honourable senator refers to a writ issued by the Commonwealth Government in August 1969 against the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation and the Menasco Manufacturing Co. which arose, as he says, as the result of an accident involving an Orion aircraft in the United States of America in April 1968. Subsequently, a court of inquiry established in its findings that the acci dent was due to the faulty manufacture of parts which went into the assembly of the undercarriage of the Orion aircraft. The hearing of this action by a judge and jury was to commence in Los Angeles on 28th March 1972. Shortly before that time, negotiations to settle the claim out of court were concluded. The settlement involved the payment in cash by the Lockheed company of $US2m. This amount is now in the hands of the Commonwealth. On the basis of the settlement the parties agreed to the action before the Judge being dismissed with prejudice*. I understand that this form of dismissal is the usual practice in the courts of the United States. It was on that basis that Australian newspapers said that the action had been dismissed. I point out to the Senate that, in determining whether the settlement offered by the Lockheed company should be accepted, many factors required assessment. The advice of our American legal representatives and of the Commonwealth's own legal advisers was that we should accept the offer, which we did.







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