THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
CAPITAL HILL WITH LYNDAL CURTIS
TUESDAY, 22 JULY 2014
LYNDAL CURTIS, PRESENTER: Joining me now from Sydney is Labor’s Foreign Affairs Spokeswoman and Acting Opposition Leader as Bill Shorten is in the US, Tanya Plibersek welcome to Capital Hill.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Hi Lyndal.
CURTIS: What should be done now, immediately following the unanimous support that the UN resolution got?
PLIBERSEK: Well, this first step of unanimous support for this resolution is very important. It shows that Russia is keen to be seen to cooperate with the Security Council. I think the next step is clearly getting those teams that are, I believe, already in place in Kiev on to the crash site as quickly as possible. There will be a large amount of forensic investigation required now to establish exactly what type of missile has been fired and from that there's a possibility of making an assessment about where it's likely to have come from. Of course the other thing that authorities will be doing at the moment is re-examining - examining and re-examining other security and intelligence data to see whether there is other evidence to point to who fired the missile and, most importantly as well, of course, how they obtained that in the first place.
CURTIS: It is important, isn't it, that there be a ceasefire in this area of eastern Ukraine to allow not only unimpeded but safe access for those crash investigators?
PLIBERSEK: Look, there has to be an immediate ceasefire. I mean, the first task, as I've said over the last few days, of course, is to properly remove the bodies from the crash scene. It does seem that those bodies have been removed into refrigerated railway cars now and are being transported. The information around this is quite unclear but the suggestion is to a town that is held by Ukrainian authorities that obviously will make it easier to properly care for and of course eventually transport home those bodies. Very important first step. Very difficult to continue that work when the site's not safe. And then the second task, that task of gathering the forensic information that I was talking about earlier, the quite tiny in some cases fragments of the missile, if indeed it was a missile, that task also has to be done where investigators are safe to go about their work. This will be a long and involved evidence-gathering process and they must be safe to go about their work unimpeded.
CURTIS: Now Russia has supported the UN resolution which we assume means it will play its part in getting access to the site, both the Prime Minister and yourself have given quite strong words to Russia if that cooperation does not happen. Is there anything that the UN can do to enforce its resolution?
PLIBERSEK: Well, I think it's important to say that it is a good thing that Russia has backed this Security Council resolution. There was some doubt at the beginning of the process that they would do it. That's a good first step but it's not enough on its own. Certainly not enough on its own. What has to happen now is for Russia to use its influence with the rebels that they are backing to ensure continued access to the site and, more particularly, to make very clear that any lack of cooperation from those rebels will be - that they'll be on their own. There is a lot of evidence that these rebels have received a great deal of support, including weapons and training from Russia in the past. It's not credible to believe that the Russians don't have significant influence. They have to use that influence to ensure access to the site, to ensure that the site is held safely and, frankly, to reduce the hostilities that have, it seems, led to this terrible tragedy.
CURTIS: Does the Prime Minister and the Foreign Affairs Minister do they deserve an enormous amount of credit for this, not only getting a UN resolution through in only a matter of days but also taking a very strong stand very early on this matter?
PLIBERSEK: Look, I think it shows that organisations like the Security Council can, when they're operating well, be very effective. I think it's very important that this resolution has been supported unanimously. It is important that Australia has taken a leadership role in doing that because of course we have had a significant number of citizens and permanent residents affected.
CURTIS: Tanya Plibersek we will have to leave it there. Thank you very much for your time.
PLIBERSEK: Thank you, Lyndal.