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Shorten: A Pall Of Shock Hangs Across The Australian Nation

The Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, has given support to the government and called for an independent investigation of the attack on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.


Speaking at a press conference in Melbourne, Shorten describing the shooting down of the plane as an “act of devastating evil and shocking beyond comprehension”. He said a “pall of shock hangs across the Australian nation” as it attempts to comprehend something “alien to our experience”.

Shorten said if Russia does not co-operate in a comprehensive and independent investigation, the government should consider not inviting Russian President Vladimir Putin to the G20 meeting in November.

  • Listen to Shorten (2m)

Transcript of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s press conference.

SHORTEN: Overnight, the Opposition has seen the Government take a very strong and appropriate course of action at the United Nations Security Council. But today as Australians wake up on the second day after the evil act of the bringing down of MH 17, we again recognise that the murder of innocent people on this plane is an act of devastating evil and shocking beyond comprehension. This is an unimaginable act, a violation of the rules of our civilisation.

Today, the families and friends of 28 Australians will be spending their first numbing weekend trying to come to terms with something which is beyond the comprehension of imagination. The pain, the loss, the sense of grief are beyond mere words.

A pall of shock hangs across the Australian nation as we try and make sense of something which is so bewildering and so alien to our experience.

I’m happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: Do you support the strong words from the Prime Minister?

SHORTEN: Yes – it is clear that the type of weapon system which has been used to shoot this plane down is very highly sophisticated and deadly. The range that this weapon was used at is beyond the ordinary machinery of war which rebel terrorists have been using in the early part of this conflict in the Ukraine. This machinery which has been used to kill people on this aeroplane is very sophisticated to operate, would have required extensive training to deploy. For an outside nation to have supplied these Ukrainian rebels with this weaponry of war and murder is a very, very reckless and stupid act – any country who has so irresponsibly provided these missile systems which have allowed this terrible grief which families right across the globe are feeling today is incredibly irresponsible.

Therefore, it is in the interests of resolving what has happened that all of the great powers, including the Russian Federation, support what was said at the United Nations Security Council last night. I believe that nothing less than a full transparent, international investigation, including access to this disaster zone – anything less than that is not enough. It is not acceptable for great powers to block the initiative of Australia and other nations to get to the bottom of what has really happened.

JOURNALIST: Do you think that President Putin should attend the G20 in Brisbane?

SHORTEN: I think it is in the best interests of the world to have a full, transparent, independent investigation. For the Russian Federation to resist this is totally unacceptable. I know that in Australian politics we have our disagreements but I completely support the actions of our Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister in pushing for this investigation. If the Russian Federation will not co-operate to help resolve and get to the heart of what has really happened here, I do not believe Australians would welcome them coming to the G20.

And I put on record again, that if the Government takes this course of action, if the Russian Federation doesn’t co-operate and help us get to the heart of what has really happened in this senseless act of murder, then the Government should indeed consider not inviting Russian President Putin to Australia. I don’t believe Australians would want him here in those circumstances.

JOURNALIST: It looks like quite a number of people aboard that flight were heading to the international AIDS conference here in Melbourne. Just how devastating do you think this could be for the wider HIV community?

SHORTEN: There are so many different points of tragedy in this plane crash triggered by the missile that one does not know where to begin to start. But the tragedy of losing so many of the world’s AIDS researchers means that the repercussions and the loss of life from this senseless act of barbarity will be felt far beyond even the immediate families grieving for the loss of family members. But I also have to say that the loss of so many children from this aeroplane is indeed sickening to me as a parent and a human being. All of us who’ve taken children on aeroplanes believe, rightly, that we can safely do so. This is a loss of innocence which will never be repaired.

Thanks everyone.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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