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31 August 2015

aircraft in flightThe disappearance of Malaysian aircraft MH370 over the Indian Ocean and the shooting down of Malaysian aircraft MH17 in eastern Ukraine, in 2014, triggered a huge international response, of which Australia was - and is at the forefront.

The man appointed to collectively lead Australia’s response, Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston, is to deliver the 2015 Annual Hawke Lecture, presented by The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, in which he will reflect on both crises and their repercussions over the past 18 months, in his speech:  MH370 and MH17 Disaster and Crisis: An Examination of Australia’s Response.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston was appointed as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to lead Australia’s efforts to help recover, identify and repatriate Australians killed in the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash and he also led the Joint Agency Coordination Centre coordinating the Australian Government’s support for the search into missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Australia’s connection to both flights is evident in different ways; MH370 disappeared in March 2014, in  an area within Australia’s search and rescue responsibility, while, of the 298 people killed in the MH17 catastrophe in August of the same year, 38 were Australians.

The repercussions of both tragedies continue to dominate global headlines; in July this year Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop criticised Russia for using its veto power to block a UN proposal to set up an international criminal tribunal into the MH17 disaster, while in August there was widespread speculation that wreckage debris found on Reunion Island was from missing flight MH370.

Sir Angus Houston’s involvement in both crises follows a successful career in the military which saw him rise to become the Chief of the Defence Force from July 2005 until July 2011. Prior to this role Sir Angus was Chief of the Air Force for four years. In January 2015 Sir Angus was awarded the Knight of the Order of Australia for extraordinary and pre-eminent achievement and merit in service to Australia.

The 2015 Annual Hawke Lecture will take place at 6pm on 14 September at Adelaide Town Hall. Registrations for the event can be made here.

For further details, contact Jacinta Thompson, Executive Director, The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre: office (08) 8302 0651 (mob) 0402 175 895 email Jacinta.Thompson@unisa.edu.au

Media contact: Will Venn office (08) 8302 0096 email will.venn@unisa.edu.au

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