Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has just addressed the parliament, saying the missile which brought down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 today, killing at least 27 Australians, was likely launched by Russian backed rebels.
Abbott has summoned the Russian Ambassador, Vladimir Morozov, in Canberra to seek assurance that the Russian government will cooperate fully with investigation.
“This looks less like an accident than a crime,” Abbott said. “If so the perpetrators must be brought to justice.”
He said the “bullying” of small countries by big ones will not be tolerated and Australia will be working with the United Nations Security Council to arrange full access to the crash site, the black box, debris and any individuals who might be able to “shed light” on the event.
“We will do all we humanly can,” Abbott said.
“This is a grim day for our country and a grim day for our world”.
A team from the Department of Trade and Foreign Affairs is preparing to depart for the Ukrainian capital, Kiev and a full investigation into the tragedy will be launched.
He said early evidence suggests the plane, which was flying over Ukrainian airspace, was shot down “by Russian backed rebels”.
MH17 was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, with many on board bound for Australia.
“At least 27 Australians have been killed,” Abbott said, adding the bodies of the deceased will be “repatriated as quickly as possible”.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families.”
He said it is the “Australian way” is to “help in times of trouble”.
Putting partisan differences aside Leader of the opposition, Bill Shorten also addressed the House of Representatives, describing the news as “debilitating” and a “violation of the rules of civilisation”.
He credited Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop for their work today.
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