Joe Hockey says Tony Abbott’s promise to “shirtfront” Vladimir Putin over the MH17 disaster reflect the “anger and understandable emotion” in Australia.
Treasurer Joe Hockey has defended Tony Abbott’s promise to “shirtfront” Russian President Vladimir Putin over the MH17 disaster at next month’s G20 Summit in Brisbane.
Mr Hockey said the prime minister’s words reflected the depth of “anger and understandable emotion” in Australia.
“There is a deep-seated anger across the Australian community about what happened to the 38 poor souls, who were Australians, that died on the Malaysia plane in Ukraine, but also to help to find ways to get justice for the families that lost loved ones,” the treasurer said in London on Tuesday.
The Malaysian Airlines plane was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile over territory held by Russian-backed rebels in Ukraine in July, killing 298 people.
Following the disaster there were calls, including from Labor Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, to stop the Russian president attending the G20.
But the invitation was extended and Mr Hockey said he understood Mr Putin planned to attend.
He said the G20 was an important opportunity for “proper dialogue” with Russia.
Mr Hockey said he expected talks to include the issue of the economic sanctions that Western nations, including Australia, had placed on Russia in the wake of the MH17 crash.
“There is no doubt that sanctions are having an impact both ways,” he said.
“Russian sanctions are having an impact on Europe and European, American and Australian sanctions are having an impact on Russia.
“So if there is a way through the challenge in Ukraine then hopefully that can be identified either before Brisbane or at Brisbane.”
Mr Hockey was in London for meetings with British Chancellor George Osborne, shadow chancellor Ed Balls and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney ahead of the G20.
The treasurer said the British Chancellor had encouraged him to “stay the course” on his controversial budget measures.
“I have no doubt, following consultation with George Osborne and other ministers in the G20 – but also having consultations with major investors in Australia – that they know we need to undertake the reforms we announced in the budget,” he said.
“They know that the dividend of a stronger and more prosperous Australia and more jobs and better paid jobs will come as a result of our budget.”
He said that “despite the doom and gloom in mainland Europe” he remained “optimistic” about the European and Australian economies.