Kay Bidner, mother of Adam Bidner, speaks to media outside Gladstone Magistrate's Court where an inquest is taking place into the Dianne and Cassandra maritime tragedies.
Kay Bidner, mother of Adam Bidner, speaks to media outside Gladstone Magistrate's Court where an inquest is taking place into the Dianne and Cassandra maritime tragedies. Matt Taylor GLA280319INQUEST

Mother of lost fisherman to fight for industry reform

THE mother of a fisherman lost at sea has boldly told a coroner the commercial fishing industry needed immediate reform.

Adam Bidner was one of six men who lost their lives when dive boat Dianne capsized off Seventeen Seventy on October 16, 2017.

A joint inquest was held to investigate the cause of the sinkings of the Cassandra in April 2016 and the Dianne and if the loss of eight crewmen could have been prevented.

The bodies of Adam Hoffman, 30, and skipper Ben Leahy, 45, were found by police divers in the Dianne but fisherman Eli Tonks, 39, Adam Bidner, 33, Zach Feeney, 28, and Chris Sammut, 34, disappeared.

Ruben McDornan was the only survivor of Dianne.

The bodies of Cassandra skipper Matt Roberts, 61, and crewman David Chivers, 36, also disappeared.

Today, at the end of the inquest, Mr Bidner's mother Kay told coroner David O'Connell she hoped his recommendations would action real change in the industry.

"You're a can-do attitude kind of person, I can see that," Ms Bidner said.

"Our boys deserved to be rescued, not recovered...they were out in a workplace doing their jobs."

Ms Bidner said the Dianne crew were talented divers, close friends and would take a bullet for each other.

"What scares me is that Coroners' reports are not always acted on," she said.

"It worries me that right now people are listening and say yes... But then later say it's too difficult or expensive."

Mr O'Connell told Ms Bidner he was "not a person easily dismissed".

During the inquest several issues were raised as factors that may have contributed to both capsizes.

Some of the issues Mr O'Connell will look into and provide recommendations on include the delay of information to authorities, placement of safety equipment and life rafts onboard and the dislodgement of large freezers that became obstacles and may have contributed to the drowning of some crew members.

Mr O'Connell will investigate if there is sufficient evidence the Cassandra became caught in a hook-up, causing it to capsize.

He will also determine whether there was any negligence in the safety and training of its crew.

Mr O'Connell will investigate the cause of the Dianne capsize; whether the skipper lost control, the boat was overwhelmed by a "freak" wave and bad weather condition or a combination of other contributing factors.

After the inquest was adjourned for the Coroner's findings, Ms Bidner told media she was "cautiously optimistic for change".

"Every time you eat a piece of seafood from your plate think about the men, the workers, getting it for you and the risk they take every day," she said.

"They are entitled to workplace health and safety and regulations

"But in this case mother nature, a freak wave, in my belief is what has occurred an overcome the vessel.

"The boys endeavoured to make their break and get away...it is what it is ... we can't go back.

"But we can work towards advancing and bringing up to speed recommendations of 20 years ago from other coroners that have not been acted on."

Ms Bidner said after six months if nothing had been done she would be "following it up".

"It is my duty to my son for the eight lives loss in that 16-month period.

"I'm just a mum who has lost her son, but I also believe in fair play and every opportunity to earn a quid safely and be able to go home to those that love you."



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