Sunrise, New York - interview with David Koch

  • Transcript, E&OE

DAVID KOCH Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is in New York to address the UN Security Council on the downing of flight MH17.

Ms Bishop is pressing for an international criminal tribunal to prosecute those responsible for shooting the plane down. 298 people, including 38 Australians, were killed when the plane was shot out of the sky over Ukraine in July last year. A Dutch-led investigation into the tragedy is due to finish in October. Julie Bishop joins me now from New York.

Minister, good to see you. We marked the first anniversary of the tragedy just over a week ago. How important is this next step towards getting justice for the families of all those victims?

JULIE BISHOP Good morning, Kochie. This is a very significant step. It is the third step in the resolution that we were able to obtain last year. The first step was to get a ceasefire between the separatists and Ukraine so that we could access the site to retrieve the bodies and the remains. The second step was to conduct investigations into the cause of the crash and a criminal investigation into who were the perpetrators of the downing of Malaysian Airlines MH17. And the third step is to set up a tribunal to hold those responsible to account, and all of this was envisaged by what was then resolution 2166.

I'm now in New York, returned to the Security Council, and tomorrow, New York time, we will ask the Security Council to support the establishment of an independent criminal tribunal so that the evidence that has been gathered by five nations, including Australia over the last 12 months, can be delivered to a prosecutor who can then consider what appropriate prosecutions should take place.

But we are determined to hold to account those responsible for the incident, and we owe it to the families of those who are still grieving the loss of their loved ones aboard that flight, and we don't want justice to be delayed any longer. We believe now is an appropriate time to set up a tribunal, backed by the Security Council to give it the highest level of independence and impartiality and integrity that the world can establish.

DAVID KOCH Well, the Russians shot it down and Russia's UN envoy, your colleague in the United Nations, said a criminal tribunal would lead to a surge in confrontation in global affairs. Now, that sounds like a diplomatic threat to you.

Are you concerned about antagonising the Russian bear? They have the power of veto to stop this motion, don't they?

JULIE BISHOP They do. There are five nations that have the power of veto, Russia is the only nation that has indicated it will use it. I spent an hour with Ambassador Churkin today, the Russian Ambassador to the United Nations. I countered every argument he put forward. Whether I persuade him remains to be seen but I did ask him to go back to Moscow to ask for instructions to not use the veto. The veto should not be used to deny justice to the families of those aboard MH17.

DAVID KOCH While we've got you, new claims this morning regarding Speaker Bronwyn Bishop's travel expenses. This time it's been revealed she's claimed an allowance for another wedding in 2007. What's the feeling within Government about her at the moment? And these - these continuing claims?

JULIE BISHOP Every Member of Parliament has to account for their travel expenses and there are guidelines in place, and every member has to abide by those guidelines. I understand that the Department of Finance is looking into one of the initial claims that was made. Speaker Bishop herself has referred other claims to the Department of Finance. So I believe that, as has happened in other cases, the
Department of Finance should investigate these claims and Speaker Bishop should obviously cooperate with the investigation and provide whatever information the Department of Finance requires to ensure that the travel claims were within entitlement.

DAVID KOCH Yep. Julie Bishop, thanks for joining us. Good luck with this motion in the Security Council over the next day or so into MH17. Appreciate your time.

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