Nations' 'shameless rush' as families grieve - Dunne

Last updated 18:50 26/03/2014

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Families of the victims of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 suffered for more than a fortnight because governments were not prepared to admit what they knew, Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne says.

The search for the missing plane had gone from denial of knowledge to "drip-feeding from various countries of what their satellites had disclosed", the UnitedFuture leader and minister outside Cabinet said on his weekly blog today.

That had been "followed by the almost shameless rush to the southern Indian Ocean" to be the first to find wreckage.

"[T]his whole affair has been more about the prestige of the nations involved in the exercise, than the plight of those on the aircraft and their anxious and distraught families," Dunne wrote.

"Every country now seems to have known something – more than it was prepared to let be known originally – that it now seems keen to suggest was the real turning point in the hunt for flight MH370."

Throughout the "debacle" of a search he had the impression that more was known sooner about the fate of the flight "but that the countries involved did not want to let that be known, for fear of possibly harming their wider surveillance and intelligence gathering operations", Dunne said.

Only when they feared they would be caught out did the various countries begin to share information about what they knew about the aircraft "and how long they had known about it".

Governments had been sitting back pretending they were not monitoring each other, until they worked out that the situation wasn't working, a stance which had done nothing to help the families, Dunne said.

"The poor families and those directly affected have really been secondary to the political games," he said.

"If there was information ... much earlier in the process ... I don't think in the event it would have made a lot of difference to the people on board the plane, but it sure as hell would have made a lot of difference to those who were suffering."

While victims of the families have complained that they believed that they were not being told what authorities knew, governments have denied keeping people in the dark.

Shortly after his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing last week, Prime Minister John Key said he believed Xi, like him, saw the event as a complete mystery.

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- Fairfax Media

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