Australia is taking on responsibility for searching a major section of the Southern Ocean as part of an international effort to find missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Monday referred to the incident as an “unfathomed mystery” when telling federal parliament he had recently spoken with his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak.
“He asked that Australia take responsibility for the search in the southern vector, which the Malaysian authorities now think was one possible flight path for this ill-fated aircraft,” Mr Abbott said.
Mr Razak also accepted an offer of additional Australian maritime surveillance resources.
The countries’ defence chiefs have also been in contact to determine Australia’s role, Mr Abbott said.
“Australia will do its duty in this matter … to ensure that our search and rescue responsibilities are maintained and upheld,” he said.
The aircraft was carrying 239 people – including six Australians – when it disappeared on March 8 during a flight bound for Beijing.
Now 25 countries are searching for the missing airliner as authorities investigate the possibility of a hijacking.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor supported the government’s efforts to increase search assistance.