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Minister warned of transport body’s financial woes

Minister warned of transport body’s financial woes

The Government only has itself to blame for the financial pressure that threatens to derail the work of the Transport Accident Investigation Commission, according to the National Party.

“I find the Commission warning today that it may have to ask the Government for emergency funding in order to carry out its work disturbing, but at the same time it comes as no surprise,” says National’s Transport spokesman Roger Sowry.

“Transport Minister Paul Swain was warned by TAIC in a post-election briefing that it was under funded, and this could limit its ability to do its job.

“Since then, Mr Swain has taken no action to fix the problem,” Mr Sowry says.

The briefing paper stated: “Communications from the Ministry (of Transport) indicate that the Commission can no longer rely on a statement by the Secretary of Transport on 10 December 1996 that the availability of finance should not become a determining factor as to whether or not the commission proceeds with an investigation.”

And: “TAIC’s aviation accident investigation capacity was stretched by the 1995 Dash 8 accident, and its capacity and skill base is less now, having been eroded over time by financial constraints imposed arbitrarily.”

“The briefing paper also made it clear that the Commission had achieved a small surplus the previous year only because of extra funding allocated by the Ministry of Transport.

“The prospect of future deficits are even more disturbing,” Mr Sowry says.

“TAIC carries out a critical transport safety function, and it’s vital it continues to operate without the spectre of budget restrictions hanging over its head.

“It’s high time Mr Swain started listening to the concerns of this important safety organisation and found the Commission some more money,” Mr Sowry concludes.

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