Mystery surrounds South Aust plane crash

Flight charter company Rossair says it doesn’t know what went wrong in the moments before one of its planes plunged to the earth in South Australia, killing all three people on board.


The Cessna Conquest came down near Renmark on Tuesday afternoon during a training flight, killing the company’s chief pilot Martin Scott, 48, fellow pilot Paul Daw, 65, and Civil Aviation Safety Authority inspector Stephen Guerin, 56,

Rossair has grounded its operations, and says it will cooperate fully with investigations by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and CASA.

Chief executive Warren Puvanendran would not speculate on a possible cause of the crash while those investigations were underway.

“At this stage, we simply don’t know what happened,” Mr Puvanendran told reporters on Wednesday.

“As a precaution, we have voluntarily grounded our operations.”

Mr Puvanendran said the company had an “impeccable safety record”.

“We have the people, the processes, the resources to make sure our operations run safely,” he said.

“We’ve never had a major issue or an incident. So this a surprise.This is an incident that no-one can prepare for.”

He said it was unclear when the company would resume flying, with that decision to be based on advice and recommendations from CASA.

“We’ll have to take stock of what happened,” he said.

“My priority at the moment is not to delve too deeply into the incident but to look after the families of the deceased and also our current employees.”

The ATSB said the plane crashed near the Renmark Airport shortly after take-off on a return leg back to Adelaide.

A team of five investigators had been sent to the site to examine the scene, the wreckage, interview witnesses and to gather relevant data, including radar and radio transmissions.

The bureau plans to issue a preliminary report within 30 days and a final report within 12 months.

Rossair said the training flight had been planned for some time and the 37-year-old plane involved had flown other routes earlier on Tuesday without incident.

There were no issues with maintenance as far as Rossair was concerned.

While he had more than 40 years experience as a pilot, Mr Daw was training as he prepared to rejoin the company after working for some time as chief pilot at Adelaide’s Bruce Hartwig Flying School.

The school said it was deeply saddened by the death of the “well-known, highly experienced and respected senior pilot”.

“We will all miss our dear friend and valued colleague,” it posted on Facebook on Wednesday.

Rossair also paid tribute to Mr Daw and, as chief pilot, said Mr Scott, had helped the charter company expand.

“The role of any chief pilot in an aviation organisation is one that requires leadership, mentoring and robust flying skills – and Martin delivered on all those accounts,” it said.

CASA said Mr Guerin would be remembered by his colleagues as “passionate about aviation, meticulous about safety and widely respected”.

Russia risk to elections: police chief

The federal police chief says it would be “naive” to dismiss the threat of Russian interference in a future Australian election.


AFP commissioner Andrew Colvin will head to the United States soon for talks with his counterparts on counter-terrorism and cyber security.

American intelligence and security agencies say there was Russian interference – ranging from the spreading of disinformation to data theft – in the 2016 US presidential elections and 2017 French elections.

Mr Colvin said the issue would be on his agenda.

“I think we would be ignorant and naive if we didn’t think this is a real threat,” Mr Colvin told the National Press Club on Wednesday.

The commissioner said he was “saddened and surprised” at the firing of his US counterpart, FBI director James Comey.

“My experience with James Comey is he is a man of incredible integrity and a man who the organisation wanted to follow and was a good leader,” Mr Colvin said.

“As a partner in the challenges that we’ve got in transnational crime and terrorism, you couldn’t have asked a better partner than the FBI or director than James Comey.”

However he said the depth of the US-Australian relationship when it came to national security and policing went “well beyond politics”.

The commissioner voiced concern about the extent of Australians seeking to bribe foreign officials, saying there were 37 cases of foreign bribery under way.

Foreign bribery involves providing or offering a benefit – such as cash, gifts, holidays or a job – to a foreign public official with the intent of getting a business advantage.

Mr Colvin said because of the complexity of such offences the average foreign bribery investigation was taking seven and a half years to complete.

The commissioner defended the agency’s independence in investigating politicians, as the AFP continued to “evaluate” allegations against Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party.

“We take our job seriously and act completely independently of government,” he said.

It’s radicalisation, not refugees: ASIO boss clarifies refugee-terrorism link remarks

The chief of Australia’s domestic spy agency, Duncan Lewis, has clarified his controversial remarks that there is no link between refugees and terrorism.


Mr Lewis has faced criticism from conservative circles after debunking such a link during questioning by One Nation’s Pauline Hanson at a Senate Estimates hearing last week.

While Mr Lewis sought to “give context” to his remark on Wednesday, he also defended his stance.

“I’ve not said there are no terrorists who…have not been refugees or not been the sons and daughters of refugees born in this country,” he told ABC radio.

“The reason why they are terrorists is not because they are refugees but because of the violent, extremist interpretation of Sunni Islam that they have adopted.”

Mr Lewis said Australia’s refugee program was not the source of domestic terrorism, nor were they statistically more susceptible to terrorism.

“We have had tens of thousands of refugees come to Australia over the last decade or so and a very few of them have become subjects for interest for ASIO and have been involved in terrorism planning,” he said.


However, the majority of the thwarted terrorist attacks in Australia were planned by those with a radical interpretation of Sunni Islam, the ASIO boss said.

“In all of those cases they were not terrorists because they were refugees. They were terrorists because of this warped violent extremist interpretation of Sunni Islam,” Mr Lewis said.

Most of those who were radicalised became so as a result of online viewing, he said.

“They are getting online in their lounge rooms, in their bedrooms at a very young age and absorbing some of this very objectionable and very brutal material and all of this is being published by sources internationally,” Mr Lewis said.

“That is the material that is driving them towards radicalisation – not because they are refugees.”

But the support of the Muslim community was critical to ASIO’s work, Mr Lewis added.

“I’m not here to vilify the Islamic community – I’m here to keep the Australian community safe,” he said.

The clarification came after Senator Hanson vowed she would try to bring Mr Lewis back to another hearing to explain his comments.

Senator Hanson called Mr Lewis “weak” over his response debunking the links.

“I was just absolutely gobsmacked with the response I got from him, it’s not what the Australian people want to hear,” she told 2GB radio on Tuesday.

“I’m sick of these people in these positions who are not doing their job.

“People are constantly ringing up my office, pulling me up in the streets because they’re in fear. They want some answers.”

Senator Pauline Hanson on @2GB873 with @StevePriceMedia and @theboltreport. #auspol苏州美甲培训学校,长沙SPA,/B2SRdfcrbX

— Pauline Hanson (@PaulineHansonOz) May 31, 2017

Former prime minister Tony Abbott has also weighed in, saying ASIO must command the confidence of the community, adding there was a strain of “death to the infidel” within Islam.

“We keep tiptoeing around this subject and the problem is that nearly all of the terrorist incidents are associated with people yelling out ‘Allahu Akbar’ as they kill,” he said.


Kelly not focusing on ‘$9m AFL offer’

In demand Greater Western Sydney midfielder Josh Kelly will balance the lure of more cash elsewhere against potential AFL premierships at the Giants, but won’t put a time frame on when his decision will come.


With his father Phil having played for North Melbourne, the Kangaroos have reportedly offered the 22-year-old a nine-year, $9 million deal.

Kelly says he’s trying not to think about the price tag or be distracted by the huge amount of external buzz about his situation.

On Wednesday, Kelly declared his love for the Giants and his teammates, but wouldn’t be drawn on when he would make his decision.

“There will be a whole bunch of factors that come into my decision when that time is right, but I love it here,” says Kelly, whose contract expires at the end of this season.

However, he agreed it was likely to come down to weighing up the lucrative financial offers from outside suitors against the potential of the talent-stacked Giants to win multiple premierships in coming years.

“They are, I guess, the factors that need to be considered eventually,” Kelly said.

“But it’s 10 rounds into the season. I’m still contracted for this year with the Giants, so I can’t afford to think about those things right now.”

Kelly praised the Giants for not putting him under any pressure and was enthusiastic about their prospects.

“It is a special group, we’ve got great teammates, great coaches, great support staff, so it is exciting,” he said.

“We’re focusing on this year at the moment and, hopefully, we’ll be able to do some damage come the end of the year.”

The constant chatter has had no adverse impact on his form as he has been racking up career-best numbers, emerging as one of he stars of an injury-riddled but highly placed side.

“Come game day, it’s not a factor. It gets spoken around a bit of banter at the club – it’s nothing more than that,” Kelly said.

“It doesn’t really weigh me down.”

Kelly’s price tag and situation have led to constant ribbing from his teammates.

“There’s no sympathy from them,” he said.

One notorious Giants serial pest has led the ribbing.

“(Ruckman Shane) Mumford, just like with everything else, his annoying side comes out,” Kelly quipped.

He said he wasn’t discussing his contract situation with his father, who played 61 games for North from 1981-85.

No changes for Hawks, Power in AFL

Hawthorn will field an unchanged line-up for the first time this season in Thursday night’s AFL clash with Port Adelaide.


The Hawks have opted to stick with the side after their morale-boosting victory last week over Sydney at the SCG, while the eighth-placed Power will also go in unchanged from last round’s two-point loss to Geelong.

A cagey Alastair Clarkson had earlier declined to reveal whether 14th-placed Hawthorn would swing changes for the Adelaide Oval clash.

Young key forward Tim O’Brien had been considered a chance to play after recovering from hip soreness, but will miss another week, with the Hawks backing in last week’s debutants James Cousins and Dallas Willismore.

“We’ll settle our side tonight. We’re not going to reveal anything now,” Clarkson said on Wednesday morning at Melbourne Airport.

“We face another confronting challenge again tomorrow night against Port Adelaide, who on their home patch are particularly hard to beat – that’s why we’re so cagey around our side and all that sort of stuff.

“We’ve had a very, very short break – two interstate travels (and) a six-day break.

“We need to use every minute that we’ve got to actually make sure that the side that we pick is the right one to play against Port Adelaide tomorrow night, and gives us the best chance of victory.”

Former Richmond big man Ty Vickery has been retained and is likely to offer assistance to Ben McEvoy against Port’s Paddy Ryder, who Clarkson labels the season’s most-influential ruckman.

Clarkson said the six-point victory over the Swans, capped off by skipper Jarryd Roughead’s match-winning goal, had lifted spirits after a tough start to the year.

“We lost our first four games of the season – that’s a challenge that we haven’t had to confront very often in the last 10 years, and that’s not easy to confront,” Clarkson said.

“It’s given opportunities to some of our younger players, (with) some of the injuries that we’ve got at the present time, and that’s what was really pleasing about last week’s victory against a really respected opponent in Sydney on their home track.

“When you have those sort of victories, it does a lot for the morale around the footy club and says you’re heading in the right direction with your next crop of players.”

Power coach Ken Hinkley said the decision to line up unchanged against the Hawks rewarded his players’ consistency.

“We’ve played strong footy in every game we’ve been in, we’ve had a couple of down quarters but, other than that, we’ve been pretty honest,” he told FIVEaa radio in Adelaide.

“You back the boys in to keep playing the footy they have been playing.”