27 August 2014

Speech: MH17 condolence motion

I rise to join with other members to express my condolences on behalf of the people of Corangamite. On that fateful day, 18 July 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine and 298 people were murdered. It was a civilian commercial flight.

This was a complete tragedy and a complete waste of human potential. The lives of the families and friends of those on board changed forever that day. The downing of MH17 forever changed our nation.

This despicable action strikes at the heart of the freedom of movement which we so readily embrace in the globalised world in which we live. Thousands of commercial flights take off across the world every day. Flying has become a normal and frequent part of life for so many Australians whether it be for travel, work or holidays. There is a real sense that it could have been any one of us on that plane.

Today I honour the 298 innocent people who lost their lives on that day, including 38 people who call Australia home. In particular, I pay tribute to the 17 Victorians who died:

Ithamar Avnon, Francesca Davison, Liam Davison, Marco Grippeling, Gary Lee, Mona Lee, Emiel Mahler, Elaine Teoh, Gerry Menke, Mary Menke, Albert Rizk, Maree Rizk, Hans Van Den Hende, Piers Van Den Hende, Marnix Van Den Hende, Margaux Van Den Hende and Shaliza Dewa.

I commend our government for acting swiftly, with the Netherlands and Ukrainian governments and other international partners, to implement the highest level international response. In particular, I wish to commend Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop for their global leadership in instigating a criminal investigation and implementing the recovery of the bodies of those who died.

That Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, along with her diplomatic team in New York, was able to secure within a matter of days a resolution of the United Nations Security Council to condemn this terrible crime and provide vital access to the crash site to begin the grisly task of sifting through the wreckage is an enormous credit to her and to this government.

As the Prime Minister said at the memorial service at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne on 7 August 2014, on that national day of mourning, ‘We cannot bring them back but we will bring them home as far as we humanly can, and as a government, a parliament and a nation we are determined that justice be done.’

27 August 2014