air crashes

Dec 22, 2016

Did Australia unilaterally end MH370 search as success looms large?

There are moments when a straight answer seems so hard to get

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

Darren Chester (right) and ATSB chief commissioner Greg Hood
Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester (right) and ATSB chief commissioner Greg Hood

When Australia touted a First Principles Review in November of the ATSB managed search for MH370 the tripartite collaboration this involved was prominently emphasised.

However when the review reported on Tuesday the Australian Minister responsible for aviation Darren Chester was quick out of the blocks to reject its main recommendation, that the parties found it desirable to look, with a strong degree of confidence,  for wreckage that probably ies within a 25,000 square kilometre unsearched area along the seventh arc of possibilities to the NE of the current nearly exhausted priority zone.

Today there are reports in Malaysia that a tripartite meeting of the search partners which obviously include Australia and China will determine the future course of action.

On inquiry this morning the minister’s office was unable to confirm or deny that such a meeting would be held or where or when.

In fact under the terms of the previous agreements Australia cannot unilaterally tell the the other two partners what it has decided that they will do. That’s so ‘not on’ it isn’t even funny. It remains possible that Mr Chester has indeed consulted with his Malaysia and China counterparts, and that the Malaysian reports, which rarely depart from the official line, whatever that may be at any time, are a screw up. Or not.

The Minister’s office stands by his official statement, and the interview he gave radio station 2GB. The Minister wants a definite location for the wreckage before it is searched for, which of course would turn a search into a recovery, which would be a matter entirely for Malaysia.

There does seem to be a semantic breakdown in the Minister’s office. Surely the position would not be to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Or would it? We still don’t know with finality.

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4 thoughts on “Did Australia unilaterally end MH370 search as success looms large?

  1. comet

    They’ve come this far, they may as well search a relatively tiny extra bit on the 7th arc.

    Otherwise, another country will search there, find the MH370 wreckage, and make Australia look like fools.

  2. Dan Dair

    A couple of days ago Mick Gilbert mentioned the ‘Yes, Minister’ circular-argument, about Australia not being willing to search for the missing airliner any more, until they were already certain they knew where it was.!!!!

    That seemed a strange position to take,
    but I’ve read this page twice now & can’t seem to grasp whether the Minister is saying he won’t continue the search into the new search zone,
    or he won’t authorise a recovery mission once the aircraft is located.
    (Maybe I’m being a bit dull this evening, maybe Ben was being a bit dull when he wrote it, or maybe he couldn’t make-head-nor-tail of it himself.?)

    Since there are no-longer lives at risk, Australia has no international obligation to recover the wreckage of 9M-MRO. The flight was a Malaysian Airlines aircraft with almost exclusively Chinese & Malaysian passengers on board.
    I would have thought that those two nations should be fully, or at least 90% funding the search.?
    As the closest land-mass with far and away the closest deep-water port, it is obvious that Australia should retain its role as co-ordinator of the search & recovery mission.

    For practical purposes, as well as for ‘points-scoring’ with voters at home, the minister should be making it very clear that Australia WANTS to be at the centre of these search & recovery missions,
    that Australia is not prepared to subsidise other nations in those missions.

  3. comet

    So when MH370 is found, it’s up to Malaysia to look after the recovery?

    Isn’t that like allowing the criminal to look after the evidence against him?

    1. Dan Dair

      That was, in part, exactly why I would have though that Australian ministers would have wanted to stay involved.?
      If Australia stays as the sea-port base of the operation, if/when the wreckage is found it will be brought back to Freemantle & the ATSB would then have initial jurisdiction.
      They could at least do a preliminary inspection of whatever they were able to recover, whilst it was being stabilised & preserved before possibly being returned to Malaysia for the full investigation.?
      If the wreckage was brought into Australia, it may be that the Chinese would agree to this part of the investigation being led by the ATSB which would presumably then allay your (& my) fears.?

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