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Commission of Inquiry appointed into the fire at Marrangaroo Training Area

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Department of Defence Media Release

15 November 2013

Commission of Inquiry appointed into the fire at Marrangaroo Training Area

Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley has announced the appointment of an open Commission of Inquiry into the circumstances surrounding a fire at the Marrangaroo Training Area near Lithgow on Wednesday, 16 October 2013.

A NSW Rural Fire Service investigation determined a Defence explosive ordnance exercise at the Marrangaroo Training Area caused the State Mine Fire near Lithgow.

The Commission of Inquiry will determine how the fire started at the Defence training area, the condition of the training area on the day, and the adequacy of orders, instructions and procedures relevant to the exercise and related matters.

The purpose of the inquiry is to fully determine the facts so that informed decisions can be made to help avoid a similar occurrence in the future.

Retired Sydney judge The Honourable John O’Meally, AM, RFD has been appointed President of the Commission of Inquiry.

“As the longest serving judge in NSW at the time of his retirement, John O’Meally has a wealth of judicial experience and is very well qualified to preside over this Commission of Inquiry,” General Hurley said.

“The President will be assisted by Brigadier Jane Spalding AM, and Air Commodore David Steele, CSC, who will also be members of the Commission of Inquiry.”

Three Australian Defence Force legal officers have been appointed as Counsel Assisting the Commission of Inquiry. The Counsel Assisting team began gathering evidence shortly after the incident occurred.

The Commission of Inquiry hearings will be conducted in public as far as possible, however the President is permitted to close aspects of the hearings for operational security reasons or to ensure fairness for those who may be affected by the Commission of Inquiry.

Media contact: Defence Media Operations: 02 6127 1999