SHOT DOWN: NEVER AGAIN

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS - JULIE BISHOP FOR­EIGN MIN­IS­TER

THE first an­niver­sary on July 17 of the down­ing of Malaysia Air­lines flight MH17 is a poignant re­minder of the sense­less loss of 298 in­no­cent lives.

I re­mem­ber only too well my hor­ror and dis­be­lief when I was told in the early hours of July 18 last year that a Malaysia Air­lines plane had been downed over Ukraine. There were no sur­vivors and the wreck­age had landed in what was es­sen­tially a war zone.

Our im­me­di­ate pri­or­ity was to en­sure any Aus­tralian vic­tims were lo­cated, treated with dig­nity and re­spect, and re­turned home to their loved ones. Ob­tain­ing ac­cess to the crash site, amid fierce fight­ing be­tween Ukrainian armed forces and armed sep­a­ratists, was dif­fi­cult. We had to ne­go­ti­ate pas­sage through the Ukraine Par­lia­ment to en­sure that Aus­tralian Fed­eral Po­lice and the Aus­tralian De­fence Force per­son­nel had all the rights and pro­tec­tions they needed to do their jobs in Ukraine and the Nether­lands.

The most heart­break­ing as­pect of such a tragedy is the pain and suf­fer­ing of the loved ones of those killed. I spoke to many of the Aus­tralian fam­i­lies of the men, women and chil­dren who had died. I at­tended cer­e­monies at Eind­hoven Air­port for the ar­rival of the re­mains of the first of the vic­tims, who were trans­ported from Ukraine on Dutch and Aus­tralian air force C17s. I at­tended the me­mo­rial ser­vice in Perth for the three Maslin chil­dren and their grand­fa­ther. Words can­not ad­e­quately cap­ture the depth of grief.

A year on, our con­sular staff are con­tin­u­ing to sup­port the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims of MH17, in­clud­ing the re­turn of the re­mains and be­long­ings of the vic­tims to their fam­i­lies. We con­tinue to grieve for those aboard that fate­ful flight. We will con­tinue to do all we can to make sure that the per­pe­tra­tors are held to ac­count and that never again will a com­mer­cial plane, in com­mer­cial airspace, be shot from

the skies.

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