TRANSCRIPT: Doorstop Interview, Parliament House, Wednesday 14 October 2015




SUBJECTS: MH17 Report; ChAFTA; Israel attacks

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning and thank you for being here this morning. I wanted to make a few comments about the report released overnight by the Dutch authorities into their investigation of the downing of MH-17. This will be a sad and a confronting time for the families and friends of those who lost their lives tragically when MH-17 was shot down. 38 Australians, 298 people, lost their lives in this tragedy. I hope the report that was released overnight gives some comfort to the families and friends of those who lost their lives. This is a serious and a credible report by the Dutch authorities that shows clearly that a Buk missile system is responsible for the downing of MH-17. It gives further information that the people onboard MH-17 were unlikely to have had any inkling that this was upon them. This report, of course, doesn't apportion blame. It identifies the fact that this is a Russian missile system. It identifies an area of around 320 square kilometres from which the missile was fired but it doesn’t say who fired the missile. We are very concerned to ensure that continuing criminal investigations hold to account those responsible for firing this missile. This is a crime on an enormous scale and the memory of the victims demands that investigations continue into who was responsible for firing the missile. Any questions on this?

JOURNALIST: What action would you like to see from Russia moving forward?

PLIBERSEK: Well, in the first instance I think the Russian Government and the makers of this missile system should stop pretending that this is a politically motivated investigation. This is a very serious and credible report. We, of course, have seen the leadership of the Dutch authorities in this instance but there's been an international team investigating this issue, including Australians, and the Russian Government should not, for a moment, pretend that this is not a credible report.

JOURNALIST: How confident are you that the criminal investigation will lead to prosecutions?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I can't answer in terms of how confident I am. What I can say is it's necessary that this criminal investigation continue, that the Russian authorities should urge every cooperation from separatists working in the Ukraine that they have contact with. That the Ukrainian Government, of course, continues to offer its support and access to the area that needs to be investigated and that the international team do their very best to bring those responsible to justice.

JOURNALIST:  The report has been quite critical of Ukraine for keeping the air space open over a conflict zone. How much responsibility does Ukraine have to take for this?

PLIBERSEK: I think the report has made a number of suggestions about overflying of aircraft in conflict zones and I think it's important that the international community take note of those suggestions. The report's also made some suggestions about passenger lists and how information about passengers should be better collated so that it is more quickly available at a time like this, a time of crisis. I think it's important that the international aviation bodies take note of these additional suggestions and, of course, that countries in conflict consider the lessons learnt.

JOURNALIST: On the China free-trade agreement the union has vowed to continue their campaign against the deal regardless of the [inaudible] that Labor is proposing. How damaging will this be for diplomatic ties with China?

PLIBERSEK: I think it’s important to say that Labor has always supported a free-trade agreement with China. We were involved in negotiating the free-trade agreement with China when we were in Government but we want an agreement that delivers good jobs to Australians and we’ve been working with the Government in recent days to iron out the areas of difference between us. We believe that the legislation supporting this agreement can give us the reassurances that would say that good quality jobs are offered to Australians and that their pay and conditions don’t undercut local workers so that this agreement can proceed. I think that questions for the union moment are questions for the union moment and I’d add that my colleague Penny Wong will be making further comments about the free-trade agreement later this morning on doors on the Senate side.

JOURNALIST: Should the union movement back down?

PLIBERSEK: Well that’s a matter for the union movement - what I’d say is that Labor has always been a party that supports greater trade because we know that there are jobs in exports.  I did also want to make a few comments about the outbreak again of hostilities in Jerusalem and in Israel more generally and the Palestinian Territories. We’ve seen in recent days the loss of three lives, 20 people injured and continuing escalation of conflict. Australian’s greatest hope and greatest interest is in a peaceful resolution of these conflicts and we would certainly urge the parties to do all they can to restore peace. It is a tragedy after so many lives have been lost in Israel and the Palestinian Territories in recent years that we would see any additional loss of life. So we strongly urge the parties to sit down to negotiate and for this type of conflict to end.