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Them and Us. Mate, it’s Getting Really Old.

Editorial: Australian Government Wastes Little Time in Laying Blame for the Crash of Lion Air JT-650, Showing Racial and Nationalistic Bias in the Process

Smarttraveller.gov.au, the offical "travel warning site" of Australia, wasted no time and within hours of the crash of Lion Air JT-610 on Monday morning, October 29, 2018, immediately upgraded its "travel warning" for Indonesia as follows:

“Following the fatal crash of a Lion Air plane on 29 October 2018, Australian government officials and contractors have been instructed not to fly on Lion Air. This decision will be reviewed when the findings of the crash investigation are clear (see Local travel). The level of our advice has not changed. Exercise a high degree of caution in Indonesia overall, including Bali. Higher levels apply in Central Sulawesi and Papua provinces.”

While it is the business and responsibility of Australian Foreign Affairs and Trade officials to do all possible to protect the interest and safety of Australians travelling abroad, it is not clear if, in the rush to judgment, whether the Australian traveler is being well served by his or her government.

In these early hours, the cause of the air disaster that claimed 189 lives remains very much a mystery. While weather seems not to have played a factor in the crash, there remains a whole range of other possibilities that must be carefully ruled out, including pilot error, airline maladministration, or a mechanical failure in what remains a relatively new model of the Boeing 737.

We are not jumping to Lion Air’s defense but, at the same time, if the Australian Government is truly acting in the best interest of its citizens and if, they want to act with an abundance of caution, shouldn’t they really be advising their officials and contractors to avoid flying on both Lion Air and all Boeing 737-MAX 8 anywhere in the world?

Given the location of the crash and the certainty that the black boxes will be recovered and likely provide a comprehensive understanding of what caused this tragedy, we can’t help but feel that the rush to judgment reveals a biased readiness on the part of our Australian neighbors to blame Indonesia and one of its airlines for the crash, when, in fact, other explanations are possible. Even the Boeing Corporation who built the aircraft are displaying more caution and forebodence than the Australian Government, saying only: “Boeing is aware of reports of an airplane accident and is closely monitoring the situation.”

In the end, the cause of the crash will be laid to one of the following: The Indonesian civil aviation regulators; the management of Lion Air; the human error of technicians charged with maintianing the airplane; human error nu the cockpit crew; or a mechanical shortcoming/design flaw in the newly-developed Boeing aircraft.

Let the chips fall where they may in order that the cause of the crash can be discovered and the necessary steps be taken to prevent a similar tragedy in the future.

But if for instance, a fault in the design of the aircraft is eventually identified as the cause, that finding would also unintentionally lay bare  a racial basis when it comes to Australia’s consideration of matters Indonesian. Clearly, the warning issued today shows that someone high in the power structure of the Australian government has uniltererally and prematurely decided it must be a failure by either Indonesian regulatory control of air safety, Lion Air, or its pilots that are to blame for today's crash. But, in truth, only if the eventual findings of the Air Safety Investigation Team reveal a failure in safety regulation by the Indonesian Directorate of Civil Aviation or a fundamental failure in safety management by Lion Air would the wording and intent of the latest Australian Travel Advisory be justified. Why the rush? And, why the absolute certainty the only possible explanation falls at the feet of the Indonesians.

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe. . .  Beware, the toe you catch may be your own!