Bill's Speeches


Thank you Madam Speaker, And I thank the Prime Minister for his words.


“Winter is come and gone, but grief returns with the revolving year.”


Shelley wrote those words, nearly two hundred years ago, mourning the loss of his friend John Keats.


Today, as we pay our respects to the 239 souls lost aboard MH370, we offer our heartfelt condolences to those for whom a year has come and gone - yet their grief abides.


The thoughts of us all in this place are with everyone for whom the passing of a year has brought only conflicting internet rumours and scarce solace.


In particular we think of the friends and loved ones of the seven on board for whom Australia was their home:


Rod and Mary Burrows, bound for China with their friends Catherine and Robert Lawton: ‘looking to see a bit of the world’.


Young Sydney couple Li Yuan and Gu Naijun, heading for Beijing and their precious children.


And Paul Weeks, a New Zealander who had made a life in Perth, a loving husband and father on his way to his ‘dream job’.


Our hearts go out to you, the people they loved.


None of us can truly know the sorrow you have endured.


I cannot imagine what it is to bear the burden of private grief, in the public spotlight.


We cannot begin to understand that terrible first moment when praying for a miracle and hoping for the best, gives way to despair and facing the worst.


Yet all of us in this place, indeed all Australians, know what it is to lose someone that we love.


We can at least appreciate that sudden, lose-all-strength from your body shock, of referring to a loved one in the past tense, for the first time.


We know this is a year of ‘firsts’ that you have endured.


The first birthday marked, but not celebrated.


The first Christmas with an empty place at the table.


The first family photo with smiling faces missing.


And the moment you re-live every time you say, or think, ‘they would have loved this’…‘I wish they were here’… ‘I wish I could talk to them just one last time – I had one last thing to say’.


Because all Australians have known this sadness, because all of us have walked this road – This parliament can say to you today, you are not alone and you never will be.


Madam Speaker,


We live in a difficult world where the nightly news reports of conflicts and challenges and things that are not accustomed in Australia.


But, I believe that this tragedy has resonated more than most. Not because Australians are cynical, or hard bitten, but because some things are beyond our comprehension.


But I believe your grief has a greater empathy with people because we all fly.


We all entrust ourselves to the principles of flight and aerodynamics in essentially aluminium tubes.


At the heart of this tragedy lies even more frustratingly, a mystery – it’s unsolved and it’s unresolved.


As I say, many of us in this place will board planes later today.


We will, without a moment’s hesitation, trust in the skills of the pilots, the expertise of the ground crew and the safety and reliability of the technology.


And in an era where flying has never been safer, and the reach of communications technology has never been broader, it still feels impossible to believe that an international commercial airliner could simply disappear, vanish as if it had never been.


I understand that every day that passes makes it feel less likely that we will ever know the final fate and resting place.


But I, like the Prime Minister, believe that the answers will emerge.


Like the Prime Minister, I have had the privilege of meeting members of the international team involved in the search for MH370.


I saw their professionalism, their capacity and their complete dedication to task.


Australians, I think can be proud of the leadership that our people have shown in this international search mission of unprecedented scale and difficulty.


For so long as their search goes on, Australians will be grateful for their dedication, determination and skill.


Amongst all of our international Coalition, I must record a particular feeling for Malaysia in the course of last year.


Our thoughts are with that great country.


Madam Speaker,


The search for MH370 has united so many countries –today it unites us all.


You are most welcome in this Parliament.


We understand that you would give anything not to have been here but you should know that we stand united with you, the loved ones of the lost.


We stand united in our support for the skilled work of the international search team.


We are united in our deep respect for the memory of the missing.


May they rest in peace.