Jul 18, 2016

Tony Abbott ‘yearns for justice’ but ignores airline’s role in MH17

Tony Abbott wants justice for victims of MH17. But he should consider the culpability of the airline, not just of Russia.

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

MH17 crash site
Tony Abbott still "yearns for justice" over the downing of MH17 in Ukraine, killing 38 Australians two years ago yesterday. If he really had the guts to take on the findings of the Dutch Safety Board’s inquiry he’d also be seeking justice for the victims from a airline that ignored the most basic of safety considerations in choosing to use disputed airspace over eastern Ukraine. The Malaysia Airlines 777-200ER had 298 people on board when they were all murdered by the detonation of a Russian-made BUK missile close to its cockpit. Just who murdered them is the subject of a Dutch criminal inquiry that is expected to report this year, and perhaps soon. Any reasonable person following the atrocity would lean, very strongly, to the conclusion that it was launched by a Russian unit operating against Ukraine separatists from inside the contested Ukraine claimed territory. But with a complete disregard for the actual findings of the Dutch Safety Board inquiry into the technical and operational aspects of the disaster, dangerously unsafe decisions about using that airspace made by Malaysia Airlines -- and others who should have known better than to cross it on July 17, 2014 -- have been almost completely ignored in pursuit of Russian culpability for the missile launch. There were two things wrong with airlines choosing to fly in Ukraine in skies which the country demonstrably didn’t have control on that fateful day, according to the DSB report. The first was self evident. The airlines had elected to fly over a war zone in which there had been at least 16 aircraft shot down in the preceding weeks. And they had ignored the consequences of an airliner losing altitude in the event of an engine failure in accepting air traffic control advice not to fly over that area at less than 32,000 feet. (In such an event the various twin-engined jets that used that airspace on that day would have descended to around 26,000 feet. Had the operational crisis been a cabin depressurisation, they would under the rules have needed to drop to 13,000 feet or less.) The reason the media overwhelmingly didn’t report these findings was that it relied upon an evasive sound and light show presentation by the DSB that starred the reconstructed forward section of the shattered Boeing 777 and never mentioned matters that were explained in blunt detail in the actual documentation. It seems that almost none of the media actually read or understood the report that was issued by the DSB. They were suckered, and they suckered their readers or viewers. That report also said that Malaysia had refused to fully co-operate with the inquiry, specifically in relation to intelligence as to what was going on in the skies of eastern Ukraine and just over the border in Russia. Abbott famously said he would "shirt front" Russian president Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Brisbane over the attack. He did no such thing. He posed for photos with Putin hugging koalas. He leveraged the sufferings and loss of the victims of MH17 for a baseless political claim that he was going to take on the Russians. It's a similar humiliation to when he told China, in April 2014, that expert analysis of "pings" by a seemingly non-existent Navy centre for underwater acoustics excellence had located signals from the black boxes of MH370. With a bit of intestinal fortitude, Abbott and the Australian government might better explore the real possibility that there is a case for criminal negligence to be made about the MH17 atrocity for Malaysia Airlines having put their passengers in harm's way. The fact that some other airlines were just as willing in this matter is beside the point. It’s all in the DSB report. It’s something Canberra needs to read and consider most carefully. *This article was originally published at Plane Talking

Free Trial

You've hit members-only content.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

7 thoughts on “Tony Abbott ‘yearns for justice’ but ignores airline’s role in MH17

  1. James O'Neill

    “Any reasonable person following the atrocity would lean, very strongly, to the conclusion that it was launched by a Russian unit operating against Ukraine separatists from inside the contested Ukraine claimed territory.” This is new! The first time I have read this theory and I have closely followed the MH17 saga (and published several articles) on it.
    In fact, the claim is completely evidence free. The only claim publicly made as to who fired the alleged BUK missile from where has come from John Kerry. The americans have since refused to release their satellite data to the public although it has been given to the Dutch Security Service (see Westerbeke’s public letter).
    Superintendent Andrew Donoghue, who leads the Australian part of the JIT has given evidence under oath (at the coronial inquiry) that the evidence of it even being a BUK missile does not meet the standards required to be used as evidence in a court.
    As to the flight path of MH17 your might have noted that planes fly where directed by air traffic control, as is the case here. You might also have noted in this context that the Ukrainians have refused to release the recordings of the air traffic controllers and the aircraft.
    You may have read the DSB Report, but you clearly have not read the appendices, in particular appendix T which summarises the report of the Dutch Security Services. They concluded that there was no evidence that the separatists had possession of a BUK missile; no evidence that they had the technical capability of firing it; and no evidence of any motive to do so.
    I agree that the media have done a poor job of presenting the evidence, but I suspect this is because of a strong anti-Russian bias that permeates so much of the reporting of Russian matters. I hesitate to call it ‘analysis’.
    That poor job is matched by much of the alternative media and I am afraid that this article is another example.

    1. michael lacey

      Good comment in reply James! I have been following it closely as well and find a lot of holes in this heavily politicized event!

  2. AR

    I cannot recall even the most foam flecked, swivel eyed claiming that it was Russian troops who brought down MH17, never mind suggesting any motive, much less a credible one.

    1. Itsarort

      Yep, absolutely no credible proof here or any where that it was Russian. And, given that the Ruskies are just a tad more professional than the Ukraine hacks, I have serious doubts…

  3. old greybearded one

    I can recall a number of people suggesting just that about Russia, just not deliberately targeting the airliner as such. Given Putin’s antics, it is a perfectly reasonable scenario, Russian advisors etc. However these comments miss the point. Yet again we have citizens killed by a rogue airline which lies and deceives. The anti Russia lobby distracts from this and Abbott of course was played a big noting fool, a role he excels in.

  4. Jaybuoy

    Clownshoes has lived on Fantasy Island for a long time..the plane .. the plane..

  5. klewso

    Abbott’s like Dorothy (Gales) – the only difference being her black and white world was in Kansas.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details