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Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Page: 3206


Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (14:00): I move:

That the House record its deep regret at the tragic loss of life that resulted from the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 370 and express its sincere condolences, together with those of all Australians, to the families and loved ones of the six Australians and the other passengers and crew who are presumed to have died.

Based on the accumulation of evidence, the Malaysian government has declared that flight MH370 was lost in the southern Indian Ocean and that all on board have perished. A considerable amount of debris has been sighted in the area where the flight was last recorded. Bad weather and inaccessibility have so far prevented any of it being recovered, but we are confident that some will be.

We mourn all those 239 passengers and crew. We especially mourn the six Australian citizens and the one Australian resident who must be presumed dead—and we grieve with their families and their loved ones—Mary and Rodney Burrows from Queensland; Catherine and Robert Lawton from Queensland; Yuan Li and Naijun Gu, who were residents of Beijing; and New Zealander Paul Weeks, who was a resident of Perth. Today I had the honour of meeting with members of the Lawton and Burrows families, who are here with us in the gallery today and will be shortly visiting the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. I want to assure them that Australia will do all it can to recover what we can from the southern Indian Ocean so that they can have the closure and eventually the peace that comes with understanding more of what happened.

Coordinated by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, today 12 aircraft and two ships are searching. Black box recovery equipment is on its way to Australia and will be deployed to the search area by an Australian Navy ship. I have pledged to Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia full Australian cooperation in the recovery and investigation operation. The crash zone is about as close to nowhere as it is possible to be, but it is closer to Australia than to anywhere else. I want to thank all of the nations involved in search activities and recovery activities—China, the United States, Japan, Korea and New Zealand—and I want to commend the professionalism of all the personnel involved.

Meanwhile, four Australian families have an ache in their heart. Nothing we say or do can take that ache away. Still, the knowledge that this nation, through this parliament, has paused to acknowledge that loss may be of some comfort in facing this terrible bereavement. May God bless you at this very sad time.

Honourable members: Hear, hear!