TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
SATURDAY, 26 JULY 2014
Subject/s: MH17; Middle East, Asylum Seekers.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, ACTING OPPOSITION LEADER: I wanted to take the opportunity of commenting on the Prime Ministers announcement that further Australian Federal Police Officers will be pre-deployed to London, in orderto be able to search thewreckage site of MH17. Ofcourse, Labor supports thedeployment of furtherAustralian Federal Police. Webelieve that our personnel are the best people for this job.Experienced, dedicated, very competentand we support theirdeployment. The next challengeis ensuring that teams areallowed onto the site, morethan three or four at a time.It is critical now that thesite is secured, it's a verylarge site for the wreckage, spread over I'm told 50 squarekilometres. There needs to be aproper methodical search of thesite from one end to theother. That can only happenwith a large deployment of ourown police force and any othermembers of the internationalteam working togethermethodically across the site.It is critical that the Ukrainegovernment now use all of theirefforts to argue for access tothe site. And that Russia usesits influence withpro-separatist rebels to allow teams larger than three or fourpeople to have access to thesite. We know that Angus Houston is on the ground now.He's a highly skilled, highlyrespected individual, and wesupport any efforts that AngusHouston calls for in terms ofadditional supports for thesite.
JOURNALIST: Earlier this afternoon, thePrime Minister wasn't able toconfirm the exact number of personnel that will be goingover. Is that reasonable, thathe wouldn't be able to dothat?
PLIBERSEK: I won't criticise thePrime Minister for not beingable to confirm an exactnumber. We were told severaldays ago there were already 50people pre-deployed to London. Unfortunately we haven't had abriefing about this additionalpre-deployment, but he has saidpublicly around 90 people. Ithink that that's acceptable.This is a critical thing, toget Australian boots on theground. Australian lives lost,we know that we can make acontribution to theinternational investigationbecause of the professionalismof our Australian FederalPolice and so we want to see acontingent able to thoroughlyinvestigate the site as quicklyas possible.
JOURNALIST: Will armedofficers on the site increasetensions for separatists?
PLIBERSEK: Well,this is something that AngusHouston will have to examinevery carefully. We don't wantto send - we don't want to sendunarmed Australian FederalPolice into a situation wherethey might be injured, theymight be taken hostage. Ofcourse our first responsibilityis to ensure that ourAustralian Federal Police areprotected, can protectthemselves. Whether or nothaving an armed guard wouldincrease tension is somethingthat Angus Houston is bestplaced to examine and toanswer. Someone with his experience is the ideal personto make that assessment on theground.
JOURNALIST: Thank you.
PLIBERSEK: I alsowanted to say a few words aboutwhat's happening in Gaza at themoment. Anybody who's beenreading the papers or watchingtelevision would be completelydistressed to see image afterimage of people injured, bodiesbeing carried out of therubble. So many of theseinjured civilians are children.Children who've been shelteringin hospitals or in schools. Itis completely unacceptable tocontinue to see this death tollrise to around 900 now. SoLabor welcomes the 12-hourpause in fighting, but we saythat this should be extended toa permanent ceasefireimmediately. Too many people have lost their lives, too manyof those people have been civilians, too many of those civilians have been children.It is critical, too, thatparties come back to the negotiating table for a durablepeace. We cannot afford asituation where every few months or every few years, therockets start firing again.Civilians lose their lives. Hostilities increase. The onlypossibility for a durable peaceis a two-state solution. AnIsrael behind secureinternationally recognisedborders, and a PalestinianState that is economicallyviable, that is able to provideits own security on its ownterritory. It is critical thatthe parties return to the negotiating table because toomany people have lost theirlives already in this tragic conflict.
I wanted to say a fewwords also about the asylum boat that's been on the highseas recently. It isextraordinary that Australiansare still not being informed bytheir government, thegovernment that they electedand put into place about what their government intends to doin this situation with asylumseekers who've been interceptedon the high seas. It appearslikely that those asylumseekers will be brought now toAustralia for processing. Wellthey could've been brought toChristmas Island weeks ago, asLabor suggested and processedthere. The only thing that stopped the processing of theseasylum seekers weeks ago isScott Morrison's ego. It is important now that thegovernment fully answerquestions about where theasylum seekers are, wherethey're going, and what's going to happen to them. It is extraordinary thatwe have a minister who has,from the day he was elected,refused to answer the mostbasic questions about hisportfolio - has put his own egoahead of managing his portfolioresponsibilities and who's nowturned asylum seeker policyover to the High Court.