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Is it just me losing my few marbles or has the world truly arrived at a state of comic book insanity? The TV news carries endless amounts of ‘heart rending’ pap, hours of commercials and every politician who can grab a minute of air time clawing each other to variously threaten, cajole and bully a sovereign nation into ‘sparing’ the lives of two convicted drug smugglers. Two of a group who willingly, knowingly and with the intention to profit from the proceeds of trafficking Heroin, which  got caught, tried and convicted.  There is enough information available on the damage to society and individuals the use of narcotics inflicts to render any comments I could make superfluous; yet the Australian government is prepared to go to extreme lengths to persuade Indonesia not to righteously exterminate these criminals, under their sovereign laws, for attempting to bring more misery into the world.

Yet this same bleeding heart, dewy eyed defence of a right to life for ‘Australian’ drug smugglers turns its back on an innocent flight nurse, grievously damaged in an air accident. It seems that Karen Casey and her fellow travellers must just like it or lump it; not too much tea and telly sympathy for them. Perhaps as an international flight nurse had Karen smuggled the odd package or two she may get the same amount of political attention and sympathy as the two convicted of intentionally, for profit, knowingly setting out to harm countless people.

To say I don’t get it would be an understatement.

The Pel-Air Curse is the legacy of Bernie Curral, patient passenger in a air accident, who along with Karen and the others on board have been treated with contempt by the same government. An indifference and contempt which has led everyone involved to the darkest, loneliest places a human being can descend to; a place from which many do not return, Bernie was one these. Unable to return to light, whether by accident or intent she is lost to her loved ones.

Apart from leaving behind a shattered group of family and friends, the small world tragedy of Bernie’s death will not create a Tsunami; but like any pebble dropped into a pond, it will, as it must, create a ripple.

“Everything we do and think affects the people in our lives and their reactions in turn affect others. The choices you make have far-reaching consequences. Each of us carries within us the capacity to change the world in small ways for better or worse. We can use the Principles of the Ripple Effect to magnify our actions and their effects.”

Can we, those left behind, make Bernie’s ripple into a dam buster? Do we even want to?

No one seems to care until it is them, a loved one, or a callous drug smuggler being torn apart by a mindless, blind, uncaring system. These same are those who could not care less, until Karma rolls the dice, then their screams of outrage will be drowned out by the clamouring of the yet untouched.

The minority who care and understand are those who have been touched by death, injury and the system. I believe we must try; it is up to those left behind to ensure that having survived an accident the aftermath does not turn into a nightmare leaving the survivors wondering if they were perhaps, better off dead. Certainly not because of a preventable accident which could, conceivably happen again. For none of the critical issues have been addressed:

The failure of the regulator to correct rules, which for many years have been described as ‘bad-law’. There has been a 25 years wait for these corrections.

The failure of the company and regulator; both clearly defined by the various audit and report. The failure of both the regulator and company to ensure that operational practices, risk mitigation and training were adequate to the demands of tasking: not simply ‘compliant’ with complex, contradictory, bad law.

The partial failure of the life jackets, which failed miserably those who were unfortunate enough to be that ‘one chance in a million’ to desperately need them. Need them they did, as the life raft was the first casualty – sinking like a rock on impact. The problems with ‘whistles’ the problems with the locator lights; all of which, in one way or another betrayed those who were, literally swimming for dear life.

One thing is certain though; the Senate inquiry, the Forsyth report and the Canadian peer review all call for major changes; it has now been almost two years since the Senate identified a fatally flawed safety system, since then……………………?

Multiple systematic failures, one preceding the other, had the fates not been kind that night, who knows, perhaps there would have been six funerals to attend. Who knows? But perhaps Karen would be well and happily attending to patients; Doc. Helm would hale and well, attending to his patients, Bernie and Garry would have been at home enjoying their life, had things been done differently, before and after the event.

Perhaps, in a happier world the warnings will not be dismissed as the ramblings of fools and the mouthing of half wits; perhaps the venal, greedy, self satisfied and self serving will realise that even the smallest, most humble of pebbles can create a dam buster ripple; but alas, not it seems, in the world we are resigned to. A world where venal, callous drug smugglers lives are deserving of massive political effort, but a half drowned, damaged flight nurse who managed to save her patients life is treated as an enemy by the state.

I wish you Godspeed and safe home Bernie; I regret there was no more that I could have done beforehand to prevent the event, and afterwards to ease your burden.