Australia to disclose reports over 'Double Six' plane crash

KOTA KINABALU: Australia is set to disclose all its reports kept under lock at its National Archives on the 1976 "Double Six" Nomad air crash that killed 11 people, including the then Sabah chief minister Tun Fuad Stephens.

Australia's Administrative Appeals Tribunal in Sydney has given the go-ahead on Monday (April 24) for the Australian government to release the full reports on the crash.

The decision was made by Senior Member G. Lazanas in accordance with Section 40 of Australia’s Archives Act 1983.

ALSO READ : Declassifying 'Double Six' report a step towards open governance in Sabah, says think tank

Australia's declassifying of the documents comes after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim allowed for the Malaysia investigation reports to be declassified earlier this month.

Among the Australian investigation documents to be released were

“Record B5535 GAF37: G Bennett - Sabah Air Nomad - report by Government Aircraft Factories (GAF) Investigation Team on a crash of Nomad Aircraft in Malaysia 9M-ATZ on 6 June 1976; “Record B638, 6/760/17 Part 1: Accident Malaysia Nomad Aircraft 9M-ATZ on 6 June 1976; and Record B638, 6/760/17 Part 2: Accident Malaysia Nomad Aircraft 9M-ATZ on 6 June 1976.

ALSO READ : Why wait so long to declassify 'Double Six' report if no element of sabotage, asks Kitingan

This was confirmed by Sabah-based law firm Messrs Jayasuriya Kah & Co who was acting on behalf of former chief minister Tan Sri Mohd Harris Salleh, who had made an application on May 12, 2022 to the National Archives of Australia (NAA) to release the reports.

The application in Australia was filed by Stephen Blanks of SBA Lawyers and Tom Brennan SC of 13 Wentworth Chambers, on the instruction of Messrs Jayasuriya Kah & Co.

The firm’s senior lawyer Datuk Alex Decena said that the Australian government will be handing the reports to the firm before it is made public.

However, he could not immediately confirm when the reports would be released to the firm.

The Australian-made Nomad N-22B aircraft was manufactured by Government Aircraft Factories (GAF).

The Malaysian investigation report on the crash pointed to pilot error and overloading of the rear cargo as the cause for the plane to stall and nosedive into the Sembulan sea waters as it approached to land at Kota Kinabalu airport.

The release of the Malaysian investigation reports prompted many of the families of the victims to request the Australian reports.

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