MH370 National Memorial Service

Speech

DCS002/2017

08 March 2017

St John's Cathedral, Brisbane

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, can I acknowledge Sir Angus Houston, and Dean of Brisbane, Reverend Dr Peter Catt.

But most importantly I want to welcome you—the family and friends of those on board MH370.

Thank you for allowing me to represent the Australian Government.

I am honoured to play a small role in today's memorial, which brings together the family and friends of those on board MH370 who called Australia home, and representatives of the many people and organisations that were involved in the search for your loved ones.

Today we remember: Robert and Catherine Lawton; Rodney and Mary Burrows; Paul Weeks; and Yuan Li and Naijun Gu.

The third anniversary of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 finds us still without answers to the many questions you have.

While none of us can possibly understand the grief and suffering you have endured throughout those three years: I want to assure you that many people within our government have worked tirelessly on your behalf.

I have said on many occasions: the search for MH370 has been both historic and heroic.

It has been at the edge of technology and science and also tested human endurance in one of the most inhospitable regions in the world.

Just as you are desperate for answers, our team has tried to solve this mystery to provide some comfort to families and friends of all onboard.

Every family has suffered a great loss and we are honoured today to be joined by the Burrows, Lawton and Weeks families. Thank you for joining us.

My simple message today to all of the families of MH370 is that you have not been forgotten.

You have not been forgotten.

You and your loved ones remain in our thoughts and prayers.

We have used our best endeavours to try and bring the uncertainty to an end.

And while to date we have been unsuccessful, we remain hopeful that at some stage in the future, there will be a breakthrough, the aircraft will be found, and we will be able to answer more of your questions.

Can I thank Malaysia and China for their cooperation and friendship in this sad and difficult task.

I acknowledge that we are joined today by the High Commissioner of Malaysia, the Ambassador of the People's Republic of China and the High Commissioner of New Zealand who also lost their citizens on MH370.

We grieve with you for the loss of your people and we thank you for the compassion that you have shown to us for the loss of our people.

I contacted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull this morning and he extends his warm personal regards and a heartfelt thank you to families, friends and everyone directly involved in the search effort.

He has spoken to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib and reflected on the terrible loss, made worse by the unsolved mystery.

Prime Minister Turnbull sends his love and prayers to this gathering today.

When this event occurred, the Australian Government joined many other countries in immediately assisting Malaysia and responding to the event.

We have all worked together to try and find the aircraft, but more importantly all 239 passengers and crew from 14 different countries who were on board the flight.

The Australian Government took a strong leadership role and led both the surface search in the southern Indian Ocean and the subsequent underwater search.

25 other countries have assisted with the search, including New Zealand, China, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and the United States and numerous organisations and agencies from around the world.

It has involved the largest underwater search ever carried out, and in an area that had never been mapped before.

The search crew members I have spoken to have described severe sea conditions which have tested the limits of their equipment and endurance.

Sir Angus Houston will speak later this morning about the efforts of those involved in the search, however I would like to add my own simple: thank you.

On behalf of the Australian Government: Thank you to everyone who has played a role in this search effort.

I can only imagine the sadness and frustration that, despite the heroic efforts by countless experts and operational crews, our search and rescue teams have not been able to locate the aircraft at this stage.

Regrettably, today we are remembering those on board without being able to say we know where they are.

And while this is a sad occasion, we are here today to celebrate the lives of your family and friends.

We are here today to remember and honour the memory of:

  • Robert and Catherine Lawton and Rodney and Mary Burrows—good friends exploring together the wonders of another culture;
  • Paul Weeks on his way to Mongolia for work; and
  • Yuan Li and Naijun Gu who were travelling to see family and be reunited with their daughters.

I never had the pleasure of meeting any of them: but I have spoken to several family members and learnt a little about their lives.

They were loved, they were respected and today we join together to celebrate and remember them.

In that spirit of remembrance: and on this important day, I would like to share some information that I hope will be well received.

I can confirm that the Australian and Western Australian governments are working together to establish and install a permanent memorial in Perth honouring your loved ones and all on board MH370.

I believe this permanent memorial is an important way to honour the Australian citizens and residents, your family and friends, on board MH370, as well as all those on board from locations around the world.

My goal is have the memorial installed as soon as possible.

Ladies and gentleman: I am honoured to have been able to join you this morning.

I hope to talk with as many of you as I can at the morning tea following the service.

Thank you.