I would like to start by thanking the men and women who are giving their all to find MH370.
Over the past three weeks, hundreds of people have journeyed thousands of kilometres to help. They have searched through stormy seas and freezing fog. They have sailed through storms to find the plane. We owe them each a debt of gratitude.
This has been a remarkable effort, bringing together nations from around the world. When MH370 went missing, dozens of countries answered the call for help. Their commitment will not be forgotten.
In a time of great tragedy – for the countries with citizens on board, and the families whose loved ones are missing – this co-operation has given us all heart. Differences have been set aside, as 26 nations have united behind a common cause. The disappearance of MH370 is without precedent; so too is the search.
This morning I met with sailors and aircrew at Pearce Air Force Base. I also spoke to the commanders of the seven nations who are here to search for MH370. They told me of the difficulties of a search like this; of distance, and weather, and of maintaining morale over a long period.
As we speak, 10 aircraft and 9 ships are searching the Indian Ocean for any sign of the missing plane. The search area is vast, and the conditions are not easy. But the new refined search area has given us new hope. And I believe the courage of the crews is more than equal to the task. Once again, I thank them all for what they are doing.
I would also like to thank Prime Minister Abbott for hosting us here in Perth; for agreeing to lead the search operations in the southern Indian Ocean; and for accepting our invitation for Australia to participate as an Accredited Representative in the investigation. We will continue to work closely with the Australian government to draw up a comprehensive agreement on the search.
At this difficult time, Australia has proven an invaluable friend. The Australian authorities, like so many others, have offered their assistance without hesitation or delay. I would like to sincerely thank Australia for all they have done, and are doing, to find the plane.
We are also grateful to all those who have brought their expertise to bear on what Prime Minister Abbott rightly called ‘one of the great mysteries of our time’.
The disappearance of MH370 has tested our collective resolve. Faced with so little evidence, and such a Herculean task, investigators from Malaysia, the US, the UK, China, Australia and France have worked without pause to reveal the aircraft’s movements. Their collective efforts have led us here.
We are here today, but our thoughts are thousands of kilometres away. In the cities and countries around the world, where families of those on board wait desperately for news. And in the vastness of the Indian Ocean, where MH370 awaits.
I know that until we find the plane, many families cannot start to grieve. I cannot imagine what they must be going through. But I can promise them that we will not give up.