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Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Page: 3206

Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:04): I seek to associate the opposition with the remarks of the Prime Minister. It is a terrible tragedy. A century ago commercial airline travel did not exist; today it is commonplace. Affordable air travel has given citizens of the world the opportunity to visit the rest of the world, which brought the world within reach of many people. Today not only people elsewhere but also Australians fly for work and holidays and to visit family and friends on our vast continent and around the world. We do tend to assume that when we enter these aluminium tubes powered by remarkable engines and crewed by remarkable staff that our safety is a given. The disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 has reminded us all individually, personally, all who fly or all who know someone who flies, that nothing can ever be taken for granted.

The fate of flight MH370 has captured the attention of our country and the whole world. The difficulty of the search, as the Prime Minister has said, reminds us all that the world is still bigger than what we imagine. As I did yesterday, I pay tribute to those Australian service men and women and Australian civilian experts as well who have participated in the search. The international search cooperation in the face of this disaster reflects a common global humanity.

In the last 24 hours the families and friends of the victims of flight MH370 have had their worst fears confirmed. I cannot imagine at the moment the grief which families are feeling. This includes the families and friends of seven passengers who are Australians or residents in our country. To the family of Rodney and Mary Burrows, to the family of Bob and Cathy Lawton, to the family of Yuan Li and Naijun Gu and to the family of Paul Weeks go our deepest sympathies.

It is fair to say that in this House we have our arguments to and fro, but I can promise you, as I know that every member of this parliament can, that there are moments that unite us which are far beyond the arguments we have. Please, I wish to express the condolences of the opposition, along with those of the members of the parliament, to all those who have been affected by this disaster. I know that, on behalf of our nation, all of us are united in some small or big way with the grief that you are feeling today.