Thursday, 28 August 2014
Questions without Notice
Malaysia: Missing Aircraft
My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development. Will the Deputy Prime Minister update the House on the continuing search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370?
I thank the honourable member for her question. The biggest marine search in global history is occurring off the coast of the honourable member's electorate. It certainly has attracted global attention and continues to be a high priority for this government. I am pleased to inform the House that this morning I met with the Malaysian Minister for Transport, Mr Liow, and the vice-minister from the People's Republic of China, Mr He, to discuss the future stages of the search. I was pleased to sign a memorandum of understanding and cooperation between Malaysia and Australia in relation to MH370 for those next stages of the search.
There has been an unprecedented level of international cooperation, and we thank all of those nations that have participated in that search effort. I was particularly pleased that, on top of the valuable assets that Malaysia has contributed towards this search, today the minister committed to match Australia's financial contribution also to the search. The Chinese have also provided important resources, although their last vessel is set to retire soon after 150 days on the water.
We remain optimistic that we will be able to find the missing aircraft. The bathymetric survey, which has been undertaken as a precursor to the deepwater search, has provided significant new information about the ocean floor in this remote part of the planet. New volcanoes up to 2,000 metres high have been discovered and in some places, near the Broken Ridge, the variations in the sea depth change from 600 metres to 6,600 metres in a very short distance. This is valuable information for everybody for the future.
The deep-water search will commence over the next few weeks with the GO Phoenix, chartered by the Malaysians, and the Fugro Discovery and Fugro Equator, which Australia have deployed for this purpose. Together they will search the ocean floor with towed sonar equipment to seek to identify where the remains of this aircraft may be located.
This is a huge search effort. It continues to be focused on the so-called seventh arc in the southern Indian Ocean, which is where the last communication of this aircraft with the satellite was made. The passengers and family of MH370 have not left our thoughts and we will do everything in our power to help them find closure to this sad event.