Channel 9 Today Show, Canberra - interview with Karl Stefanovic

  • Transcript, E&OE
17 July 2015

KARL STEFANOVIC Good morning to you. This truly is disturbing this vision. It's a game changer, isn't it?

JULIE BISHOP Good morning Karl, I saw that footage this morning. It is sickening to watch and 12 months on from the downing of MH17it is deeply concerning that this footage has emerged now.

I can't verify the authenticity of it. I'm assuming that it is part of the Dutch Safety Board investigations but is certainly consistent with the intelligence advice that we received 12 months ago that Malaysian Airlines MH17 had been shot down by a surface-to-air missile in Eastern Ukraine. This footage is certainly consistent with the advice we received 12 months ago.

The investigation has almost been completed. A final report is due to be released in October we believe, that's why Australia and four other countries that make up the Joint Investigation Taskforce are calling for the United Nations Security Council to back the establishment of an International Criminal Tribunal so that those who are responsible for this atrocity can be brought to justice.

KARL STEFANOVIC You have said repeatedly those who are responsible for this should be brought to justice, a number of times, even on our program. Don't we definitively know now?

JULIE BISHOP Well there has been an independent investigation carried out by the Dutch Safety Board with other international aviation bodies accredited to it, including Australia's Transport Safety Bureau, so a number of entities are involved in this investigation.

You will recall that when we obtained that unanimous resolution of the Security Council on the 21st of July last year, it called for an independent investigation, well that has been undertaken. It also demanded that those accountable for it should be held to account, so those responsible had to be held to account and it also called on all States to cooperate in establishing accountability. That's why we want to return to the Security Council to get Security Council backing for the establishment of an Independent Criminal Tribunal and that will require the support of all the permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council.

KARL STEFANOVIC This is slow going, isn't it? Clearly News Corp have got this exclusive video this morning, it is a year on. Is it frustrating for you here that we haven't seen justice for all those people who lost loved ones?

JULIE BISHOP Karl, there have been three investigations going on and these things do take time. You will of course recall that we had to gain access to the site. We had to retrieve the bodies, retrieve the remains. The investigation has been exceedingly thorough, involving many countries, many witnesses. They have taken the plane wreckage back to the Netherlands and have tried to reconstruct the plane.

The first report, the preliminary report was on the mechanical aspects of it. Was the plane subject to a mechanical failure? And you will recall that the preliminary reports said that the plane had been hit by multiple high energy objects. That is consistent with a surface-to-air missile. The next report, which is the most sensitive, is the one that we are waiting on to establish responsibility. That is the one that we believe will be released in October but it is important that we get this investigation right, that it be thorough, that it be independent, that it cover all aspects so that an Independent Criminal Tribunal can then commence their investigations and prosecutions without delay.

KARL STEFANOVIC I understand that you've got to do all that, you've got to say all of that diplomatically but when the loved ones of those who lost their lives in MH17 see that vision this morning and they have to go through those emotions, and you know how hard that is, you've dealt with these families, they are going to be outraged. You're going to have to deal with that emotion as well, and they are going to want justice - now.

JULIE BISHOP That is absolutely right. Our consular officials have kept in touch with the families. I've kept in touch with families. I know what a terrible 12 months it has been for them. Today, about 200 family members are gathering here in Canberra for a memorial service 12 months on from that fateful airplane flight and so it will be a very emotional day here in Canberra and across the world.

I've been in contact in recent days with my Dutch Foreign Minister counterpart, with my Malaysian Foreign Minister counterpart. The grieving goes on in these countries where citizens were lost. As you know, Australia lost many citizens, about 39 people who were Australian citizens and residents. Their grief is inconsolable and the burden of grieving and then seeing this footage will be almost too much to bear. But we are determined to hold those responsible accountable. We are determined to see this through.

The next step is the establishment of an International Criminal Tribunal. There is precedent for it, it has occurred in the past but I'm not suggesting for a moment that it is going to be easy to get all members of the Security Council, the permanent and non-permanent members on side, but we will not leave any stone unturned in our quest for justice for the families of the loved ones killed aboard MH17.

KARL STEFANOVIC Well you continue to handle this brilliantly under difficult circumstances, we appreciate your time today Foreign Minister. Thank you.

JULIE BISHOP Thank you Karl.

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