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Ministers must front over police rescue chaos

Ministers must front over police rescue chaos

ACT Leader Rodney Hide said today that Police Minister George Hawkins and Transport Safety Minister Harry Duynhoven must front up after police botched the search and rescue attempt of the stricken fishing boat Iron Maiden 16 August last year.

“I have obtained the recordings of the Police Northern Communications Centre that night. They show police confusion over what to do, who was in charge, miscommunication of vital information, a decision to stand down the rescue helicopter because the Iron Maiden was thought to be out of range – it wasn’t – and the police officer in charge of the rescue being stuck at home without a car, no maps and in his own words, ‘in the blind.’

“The two crew of the Iron Maiden were thought to be in a life- raft, in rough seas, drifting to Pandora Bank where they would be capsized. Time was of the essence. But the rescue helicopter wasn’t launched until nearly two hours after the Mayday was received.

“The Police Commissioner’s Office told the Rescue Co- ordination Centre that the helicopter was enroute, when in fact it did not take off for another 70 minutes. That’s how confused communications were.

“The recordings are damning. I am afraid after listening to them it’s impossible to have confidence in police communications. The recordings are bad enough – what’s truly shocking is the Police declaring themselves 'very comfortable with how the comms centre responded to this incident.'.

“The first thing that needs to be done is an admission that there is a problem. It’s well-passed time Ministers George Hawkins and Harry Duynhoven fronted up and declared whether they are satisfied with police performance on the night of 16 August and explain just what they intend to do to ensure that such misinformation, miscommunication and shockingly poor performance doesn’t repeat itself again and again,” Mr Hide said.

The audio recordings can be found at


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