Channel 7 Sunrise, Canberra - interview with Samantha Armytage

  • Transcript, E&OE

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE Today marks one year since flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. Among them were 38 Australians - fathers, mothers, siblings and children. As relatives prepare to attend a national memorial service in Canberra, new video has emerged showing Russian-backed rebels ransacking the luggage of passengers moments after they shot down the aircraft , disgraceful vision there. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop joins us now from Canberra.

Minister, good morning thanks for your time.

JULIE BISHOP Good morning.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE This video has come from News Corp this morning, it is quite disturbing. Is this conclusive proof Russian-backed rebels are to blame?

JULIE BISHOP Sam, I can't verify the authenticity of that video. It is revolting to watch, I felt quite sickened this morning as I viewed it. But it is consistent with the advice that we had 12 months ago that flight MH17 had been shot down by a surface-to-air missile in Eastern Ukraine and that the Russian-backed separatists were involved in the shooting down.

There is an investigation underway. We believe the report will be made public in about October, but this footage is certainly consistent with what we understood to be the situation. For it to emerge 12 months to the day since the downing of MH17 is particularly disturbing for the grieving families who for the last 12 months have had to live with the impact of this atrocious act. And today we will be commemorating the anniversary of this event and about 200 family members will be attending a service here in Canberra. So very disturbing video footage and I am assuming that it will form part of the investigation into this atrocity.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE You just can't even imagine what victims' families must be going through today to see that footage from those Russian-backed separatists.

This week, you have appealed to the UN for a criminal tribunal over the crash. What can that achieve?

JULIE BISHOP Sam, you might recall that on the 21st of July last year, we were able to obtain a unanimous resolution of the UN Security Council which enabled access to the site, a ceasefire of the conflict, access to the site, investigators able to undertake their work, and that unanimous resolution demanded that those responsible be held to account, and in fact called on all States to establish accountability and cooperate in that. So five countries, Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine have been supporting the independent investigation and we have now called for the UN Security Council to support the establishment of an Independent Criminal Tribunal so that the evidence that has been gathered in this investigation can be taken on board by a tribunal and those persons or entities or countries responsible can be held to account.


JULIE BISHOP And I'm hoping to travel to New York and to argue the case for the establishment of that tribunal so that the victims' families can have some peace knowing that those responsible have faced justice.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE Yes, exactly. Good luck with that. We hope you get that moving. What exactly is being done in Canberra today, Minister, to commemorate these victims?

JULIE BISHOP Shortly the Prime Minister will be unveiling a plaque in the gardens of Parliament House to commemorate the names of all of those who called Australia home - the residents and citizens of Australia who were aboard MH17, and that will be a service at about 10am. And then at 11am there will be a service in the Great Hall, and families, friends and others will gather to pay our respects again to the Australians and all of those who died aboard MH17. There were 298 innocent lives lost aboard that flight and 12 months on we continue to grieve with the families and friends of those who are lost.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE All of Australia is thinking of those people today.

Minister, while we have got you - we just want to change gear here very much away from that last topic. Bronwyn Bishop, your colleague, has said she will pay back her $5000 helicopter charter flight from Essendon to Geelong. I believe she was following the rules, it sounds like she was. Is her position as Speaker safe do you think?

JULIE BISHOP The matter has come to an end. The Speaker believed that she was acting within the guidelines, within her travel entitlement, and she put out a statement to that effect, and then she said she would repay it including a penalty. So as far as I'm concerned, that's the end of the matter.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE She has your full support?

JULIE BISHOP Absolutely.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE Alright. Julie Bishop, thank you so much for your time this morning.


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