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HMAS Voyager disaster: 44 years too long to wait.

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THE HON. WARREN SNOWDON MP Minister for Defence Science and Personnel

Sunday, 10 February 2008 07/2008


On the 44th anniversary of the HMAS Voyager disaster, the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, the Hon Warren Snowdon MP, has reaffirmed Labor’s determination to progress all claims for damages.

Mr Snowdon said the shockwaves from the collision between HMAS Voyager and HMAS Melbourne off the south-east coast of Australia in 1964, are still being felt.

“82 lives were lost that night on the 10th of February, in our nation’s worst peacetime military tragedy, and Labor is committed to seeing justice done.

“It took a Labor Government in 1995 to establish a scheme to compensate all of the Voyager’s survivors, and now I am determined to advance the remaining claims from the tragedy.”

Currently 34 claims for damages by former HMAS Melbourne crew are before the courts, with seven appeals. Two claims by dependants of deceased crew of HMAS Voyager are also unresolved.

“Labor promised during the election that we would appoint an eminent legal person to advise how to best progress and mediate the remaining cases, and to oversee the Department’s conduct,” Mr Snowdon said.

“And we are in the process of drafting terms of reference and hope to soon appoint a retired judge or senior silk to the task.”

Last year 50 cases were resolved through mediation and settlement negotiation, and already 2 more have been settled through negotiation this year.

“The successful use of mediation is an encouraging sign and shows what needs to be done,” said Mr Snowdon.

“Together with the review, I am hopeful that we can clear the way to ending years of frustration. 44 years is too long to wait.”

Media contacts: Kate Sieper (Warren Snowdon): 02 6277 7209 or 0488 484 689 Defence Media Liaison: 02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664