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Anderson flies on a wing and a prayer.

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Cheryl Kernot MP

Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Services


1 December 1998





The Minister for Transport, John Anderson, today admitted giving assur ances to Parliament about the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s response to the Skehill investigation into the Seaplane crash before reading the full report of the investigation.


Responding to questions from Cheryl Kernot, Labor’s Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Services, Mr Anderson confirmed that while his office had received the full Skehill Report last week, he had only started reading it on Monday night — four days after the release of the report’s Executive Summary, and only after being questioned in the House during Question Time on Monday.


Ms Kernot said Mr Anderson had signed off on CASA’s follow-up strategy to the Skehill investigation and told parliament that “we can rest assured that appropriate action is being taken” after reading a five-page Executive Summary unsupported by the full report or the evidence contained in the accompanying investigators’ reports.


“Five people are dead, there are questions about the regulatory and decision-making processes surrounding the accident, there are suggestions of communications and organisational problems within CASA and yet the Minister did not even think to go looking for the full report until he was asked about it in Question Time yesterday,” Ms Kernot said.


“That not only indicates poor administrative procedures in the Minister’s office, it suggests the Minister is not particularly interested in matters of air safety or in exercising any authority at all over CASA.”


Ms Kernot said she was disappointed the Minister seemed to be continuing the Coalition Government’s pattern of pushing air safety further and further away from being a priority government responsibility. “It’s one thing to have that responsibility at arm’s length — it’s another thing to shove it off the desk of the Minister and beyond the reach of government altogether,” she said.


Ms Kernot said public and industry confidence in aviation safety was dependent upon accountability, transparency and a clear line of responsibility that extends directly and unequivocally to the Minister and the Government. “At the moment, none of those basic requirements is being met,” she said.


Neither CASA nor the Minister will release the full report of the Skehill investigation.


Contact: Jacqui Flitcroft — (02) 6277 4328