Trade Minister Steve Ciobo apologises for insensitive statement
Trade Minister Steve Ciobo has apologised for spruiking increased flights between and Indonesia on the 10th anniversary of the fatal Garuda crash which claimed the lives of 21 people, including five ns.
Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Ciobo held a press conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Jakarta with the chief executive officer of Garuda Indonesia to announce a 13 per cent increase in flights between Indonesia and .
The announcement came on the 10th anniversary of the Garuda plane crash in 2007 which claimed the lives of the respected n diplomat Elizabeth O’Neill, AusAid officer Allison Sudradjat, federal police officers Brice Steele and Mark Scott, and the n Financial Review journalist Morgan Mellish. Many more were injured.
The ns were travelling to Yogyakarta for the visit by the then foreign minister Alexander Downer, who was travelling separately.
Senior Canberra press gallery journalist Philip Coorey condemned the government’s decision to announce the boost in flights on the anniversary of crash.
“10 years ago today, Garuda pilot Marwoto Komar, flying way too fast, rammed his plane into the runway,” Coorey said in a post on his professional Facebook page.
“It bounced three times before stopping in a rice paddy and bursting into flames, killing 21 and maiming dozens more people, including n federal police, journalists and departmental staff.
“The pilot was subsequently and inexplicably cleared by Indo courts. We lost friends and colleagues and others were terribly injured. So what does the government do? While Turnbull is in Jakarta marking the event, it releases this,” he said. Mr Ciobo said in a subsequent statement and a tweet: “I apologise for the insensitivity of an announcement today – a day when we should be remembering those killed and injured 10 years ago.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is also in Jakarta for the Indian Ocean Rim leaders summit, has laid a wreath in memory of the n victims.