• Israel Aircraft Industries Westwind VH-NGA, which ditched of Norfolk Island in 2009. (ATSB)
    Israel Aircraft Industries Westwind VH-NGA, which ditched of Norfolk Island in 2009. (ATSB)

Senators Nick Xenophon and David Fawcett have criticised the Federal Government's failure to respond the the senate inquiry into the 2009 Pel-Air ditching.

The report into the ATSB's investigation into the crash was completed and handed to the government on 23 May this year.

“This is a disgrace,” Xenophon said. “The Senate committee’s report revealed serious failures on the part of CASA and the ATSB, and still the Government has nothing to say.

The report focused on the ditching of Pel-Air flight VH-NGA off Norfolk Island in 2009 and found that the ATSB’s investigation was not up to international standards and that CASA had withheld from the ATSB vital evidence detailing its own failure to oversee Pel-Air.

“Even the ATSB’s Chief Commissioner Martin Dolan said he wasn’t proud of the investigation, but neither the ASTB nor the Government are willing to fix what is clearly a broken system,” Xenophon said.

“The committee went so far as to say Mr Dolan’s evidence to the inquiry as ‘questionable’ and had ‘seriously eroded’ his standing as a witness.

“These are incredibly serious allegations about the Chief Commissioner, but the Government has said nothing.

“Every Australian who flies should be alarmed at the unanimous findings of the Senate inquiry,” Nick said. “It’s a pity this critical report doesn’t seem to be on the Government’s radar.”

The senator's remarks came after fellow committee member Senator David Fawcett also aired grievances that the report had been ignored.

"Despite assurances made during Senate Estimates, it is now clear that the Labor Government has failed to address serious aviation safety concerns contained in findings of the Senate Inquiry into the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB)," Fawcett said in a press release.

When asked during an Estimates hearing in May if the department's brief to the minister would occur soon enough for the minister respond before the caretaker mode, the Department Secretary replied:

“We envisage being in a position to provide some initial advice to the minister, I expect, certainly within the next week to 10 days in relation to it.”

To date, there has been no response from the minister and one is unlikely now that the government is in caretaker mode.

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