ABC News Radio with Steve Chase









FRIDAY, 18 JULY 2014                 


SUBJECT/S: MH17; Middle East

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: I think it’s very important that we establish exactly what’s happened here.  It seems beyond doubt that there’s been a missile involved.  But it’s very important that we get a crash scene investigation team, an independent international team to the site as quickly as possible, so that the exact circumstances of this tragedy can be established.

STEVE CHASE, PRESENTER: You’re being kept up to date I understand it by the Foreign Affairs minister, as is the Opposition Leader about developments?

PLIBERSEK: Indeed, the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has been speaking with the Prime Minister Tony Abbott, I’ve been speaking to my counterpart Julie Bishop.  We are very eager, as the Opposition Leader and the Shadow Foreign Affairs spokesperson, to offer every support to the Australian Government.  Twenty-eight Australians at least have been killed in this terrible tragedy, and we are as eager as the Government to ensure that there is very quickly an independent international investigation into the circumstances.  We also, of course, at the very front of our minds are the families and friends of those Australians and all of the passengers on board, and of course also those people who are coming to Melbourne for the 20th international AIDS conference – that was particularly tragic to have people who’ve spent their lives seeking to help others, killed in this senseless way.

CHASE: It is your understanding that things may get a little bit clearer this weekend, when the United Nations look in detail and indeed press Russia on what has actually gone on here?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I think it’s extremely important that when the UN Security Council meets, that there is a unanimous and binding resolution from the United National Security Council members and that should include Russia urging and confirming that there will be an independent international investigation into this tragedy.  I think it’s very important that we get a crash scene investigation team into there straight away.  There are reports that there are people picking over the wreckage, it’s very important to secure the site, and to make sure that it can be examined forensically for any evidence of who is responsible.  When it’s establish who’s responsible I think there’ll be a very strong international response to whoever is responsible for this horrendous crime.

CHASE: And in tandem with that, once the perpetrators have been identified, obviously moves to settle what’s been going on for a long time now between Russia and Ukraine should be settled?

PLIBERSEK: Look I think this is the most tragic illustration we could possibly have, that the conflict between Ukraine and Russia will benefit no one – it’s a tragedy for the people of Ukraine, but it’s a tragedy for the people of the world.  It is so important that peace is brought to the region, that there is a diplomatic resolution to any conflict that exists between Ukraine and Russia, and that we see an end immediately to the violence.  It has gone on long enough, it has cost way too much.

CHASE: I imagine too, that as far as your portfolio responsibility is concerned, you’d also be keeping a close eye this weekend on what’s happening in Gaza?

PLIBERSEK: I’m extremely concerned about what’s happening in Gaza. I think again, this shows that it is so important that we resolve differences by negotiation and peaceful means.  There are well over 200 people who’ve lost their lives already in Gaza.  It is absolutely vital that Hamas stops firing rockets, and Israel, it is absolutely critical that the Israeli response is measured and seeks to protect civilian lives.

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