Tony Abbott says Russia, pro-Russian separatists and the Ukraine government should honour a ceasefire to allow police into the MH17 crash site.
Australian and Dutch police will make a third attempt to access the site of the downed Malaysia Airlines jet in eastern Ukraine to recover bodies and evidence.
For the second day running the unarmed police contingent has been forced to turn around before reaching the MH17 crash site due to heavy shelling.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he will be making another round of telephone calls to the Russian and Ukrainian leadership on Tuesday.
But at present it was a “confused situation on the ground”, Mr Abbott told Macquarie Radio in an interview.
“There is fighting and it’s not just the separatists, it’s the Ukrainian government as well,” the prime minister said.
“They have all made a commitment to use their best endeavours to get the site safe enough for us to go on board … and it’s high time those commitments were honoured.”
Mr Abbott says he is certain there are still bodily remains at the crash site.
“We owe it to the dead, we owe it to their loved ones, to get them back.”
Mr Abbott says Australia recognises the Ukraine’s sovereignty but also acknowledges that the crash site is “contested space” and that Russia has a “very high degree of influence” over some of the separatists.
The Ukrainian military has seized back a number of villages in the country’s east with a continuing show of strength, including tanks and shelling.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and special envoy Angus Houston met Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko on Monday to discuss an exclusion zone and humanitarian corridor.
Ms Bishop also wants the Ukrainian parliament to ratify a deployment agreement she’s signed with her counterpart, Pavlo Klimkin, that would allow Australia to send in armed police or soldiers.
Meanwhile, Ukraine and 11 countries that lost 298 citizens in the MH17, which is believed to have been shot down by separatists, have agreed to set up a joint team of prosecutors to examine possible criminal charges.
The nations met in The Hague under the umbrella of Europe’s judicial co-operation agency Eurojust on Monday, to discuss a joint strategy.