Prime Minister Tony Abbott says Australia owes it to those lost on Flight MH17 to ensure justice is done.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott says Australia will do everything in its power to ensure the bodies of 37 Australians killed on Flight MH17 are respected and justice is done.
Mr Abbott attended a national security committee of cabinet meeting on Sunday evening after images emerged of the crash site in eastern Ukraine being “absolutely trampled”.
He told 60 Minutes the discussion at the meeting was dominated by concerns to ensure the bodies were treated with respect and taken to a place where a proper investigation could be carried out.
“We owe it to the dead, all the dead, we owe it to the families, all the families to do everything in our power to respect the bodies, to find the truth and to ensure justice is done,” Mr Abbott told 60 Minutes.
He said Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was in New York prosecuting Australia’s case before the Security Council for an immediate securing of the site, proper treatment of the bodies and a full and fair investigation.
Ms Bishop will stay in New York “for as long as needs be,” Mr Abbott said.
He said an investigation needed access to the debris, the black box and any person who can shed light on the crash.
“We are consulting with our friends, we are consulting with our allies because frankly it is simply unacceptable to see what is happening on this site given that 298 innocent people have been murdered,” Mr Abbott said.
“We will consult with our friends and allies to ensure that no steps are neglected that can bring the bodies to a place where they will be treated with respect, proper investigations can be carried out and truth can be done.”
Mr Abbott said he was seeking a conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin to call for Russia’s assistance in repatriating the bodies from eastern Ukraine.
“If he wants to be a friend of Australia, if he wants to be a friend of decency and humanity all assistance that he might be able to offer would be deeply appreciated at this time,” Mr Abbott told 60 Minutes.
Russia has agreed to an investigation, amid mounting scepticism about its willingness to co-operate with the international community.
Earlier, Mr Abbott said he held fears of continued interference at the site.
“My fear is that Russia will say the right thing, but that on the ground interference with the site, interference with investigators, interference with the dignified treatment of bodies will continue,” he told ABC Television on Sunday morning.
Following the national security committee of cabinet meeting Mr Abbott said if he was able to speak with the Russian president he would put the case for common decency but other options were being considered.
“We are looking at all the options, we are in discussion with our friends because what is happening at the moment is simply unacceptable, it is intolerable,” Mr Abbott said.
“There are 37 people who called Australia home who were scattered over the fields of the eastern Ukraine, they deserve respect and dignity, their families deserve justice and it is our duty to do what we humanly can to bring that about.”