Malu Sara Tragedy: Diac Acts On Coroner's Findings

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12th February 2009, 06:45pm - Views: 1038

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009.09                                                                                                     12 February 2009

Malu Sara tragedy: DIAC acts on coroner’s findings

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) will closely and

carefully study, and respond to, the findings handed down today by the

Queensland State Coroner, into the loss more than three years ago of five

people on board the immigration vessel, the Malu Sara.


Secretary Andrew Metcalfe said the October 2005 tragedy shocked and

saddened everyone in the department. It led to a major review to ensure DIAC

did everything it could to ensure there was never a repeat of the tragic loss of


“At the core of the department’s actions at the time was our concern for the

immediate and extended families, friends and colleagues of those who were

lost. I again extend our sympathy to them,” Mr Metcalfe said today.  

Mr Metcalfe said much work had already been done to improve immigration

operations in the Torres Strait to avoid a repeat of the tragedy.

“DIAC has not simply waited for the various inquiries into this tragic accident

to be completed before taking action,” Mr Metcalfe said. “We immediately

withdrew the boats from service following the tragedy and commenced an

internal investigation into aspects of the loss of the Malu Sara.

“We undertook a review of our Torres Strait operations and established a

North Queensland headquarters based in Cairns. In addition, a dedicated

Contracts and Procurement Advice section was established to provide staff

with expert in-house legal advice at every stage of the procurement process.

“The department also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with other

Commonwealth agencies operating vessels in the Torres Strait, governing the

sharing of marine assets, and standards and procedures for the operation of

boats,” he said.

Mr Metcalfe said given the coroner’s findings that departmental officer Garry

Chaston should be investigated for a possible breach of the APS Code of

Conduct, he was instituting an investigation under the Public Service Act.

The department would consider the outcome of the coronial inquest to

establish what further action it might need to consider.

“Clearly there are also major implications for other agencies and individuals,”

the secretary said.  “DIAC cooperated fully with the coroner and has also

cooperated with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau [ATSB] during its

investigations. We also continue to cooperate fully with Comcare during its

investigation,” he added.

Media enquiries: DIAC National Communications (02) 6264 2244

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