The MV Dianne at the Bundaberg Port Marina.
The MV Dianne at the Bundaberg Port Marina. Mike Knott BUN210218DIANNE1

Dianne coroner slams Fisheries but don't expect an apology

THE state opposition has called on the Fisheries Minister to formally apologise for Fisheries Queensland's conduct during the inquest into the loss of the trawlers Dianne and Cassandra.

The coroner investigating the loss of eight fishermen accused the State Government of 'bureaucratic obstruction' during the inquest.

Shadow Fisheries Minister Tony Perrett said Minister Mark Furner must apologise to everyone affected by the tragedy.

The fishing trawler, Dianne, which capsized north of Bundaberg yesterday.
The fishing trawler, Dianne, which capsized off Seventeen Seventy. Queensland Police Service

In his findings, Central Coroner Magistrate David O'Connell criticised the department's failure to make the fishing industry aware of the safety functions in the VMS, an external monitoring system that tracks movements of commercial vessels.

Read the coroner's comments here

Mr O'Connell said the affidavit provided by DAF to the inquest stated on four occasions that the VMS did not have a safety function but later conceded that when a regular radio signal was not issued by a vessel, the monitoring computer generated a report.

"The worst aspect was it took until sometime during the inquest before any concession was made by the Department that not only was this function of the VMS currently available, and that it already exists, but that it had existed for quite some time,” Mr O'Connell said.

"What I find unacceptable is that a Government Department can 'sell' a system to the industry claiming it has a benefit, but then not implement the system with that benefit; but worse is to take a demonstrably wrong position to claim that the system cannot do this function and maintain that in their statements to the inquest.”

Ruben McDornan speaks to media outside Gladstone Magistrates Court, where an inquest is taking place into the Dianne and Cassandra maritime tragedies.
Ruben McDornan speaks to media outside Gladstone Magistrates Court during the inquest into the Dianne and Cassandra maritime tragedies. Matt Taylor GLA260319RUBEN

Sole survivor of The Dianne shares his story

Despite the coroner's words, Mr Furner said calls for an apology were a "grubby and despicable attack” designed to exploit a tragedy to score cheap political points.

"If Mr Perrett and (Stephen) Bennett had a shred of decency they would resign their positions for stooping so low,” he said.

"Deb Frecklington must sack them if the LNP has any standards of behaviour at all.”

He said the Australian Marine Safety Authority made submissions to the inquest that VMS was not a reliable distress alerting system and had not been designed for that purpose.

He said AMSA supported the Department's submission that a direct feed of VMS data be provided to AMSA to assist in search and rescue efforts.