E&OE - PROOF ONLY
SENATOR PENNY WONG, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE: Thanks very much for coming. I’m about to leave Adelaide for Honolulu for the Australian American Leadership Dialogue. It’s a Dialogue that is very important to our Alliance and relationship with the United States and I look forward to engaging with members of the US, across the Administration, and other experts. Because of course the US Alliance is one of the key pillars of Australian foreign policy.
But I do want to make some comments on MH 17. When the report was released this week Labor said we must do everything in our power to bring the perpetrators to justice. The 298 men, women and children who were killed on MH 17 deserve nothing less than the perpetrators being brought to justice. I notice Julie Bishop today making some comments about this and I’d say to her we offer our full bipartisan support and we urge the Government to do everything it can to bring the perpetrators to justice. We know from the report that the missile was brought from Russia into an area controlled by pro-Russian separatists and was launched from there. Now what we need to find out is who was responsible for this dreadful crime which resulted in so much loss of life.
JOURNALIST: If Russia doesn’t co-operate, do you think that a tribunal would achieve anything?
WONG: What I would say is this; the world should act to bring the perpetrators to justice. The world community should act together to bring the perpetrators to justice. But if Russia chooses to try to block this, we should not allow Russian obstruction to prevent that and we should look to every other avenue to bring the perpetrators to justice to set up the appropriate tribunal with the appropriate powers to ensure that justice is found.
JOURNALIST: Julie Bishop has suggested that there are two possible styles of investigation into MH 17. Would a domestic investigation be enough?
WONG: Well fundamentally what we want is the perpetrators brought to justice and as I said, your starting position is the world community should act. But if Russia moves to prevent that, we should not allow that to prevent further action. Every avenue and every prospect of a tribunal should be explored. It would have to have sufficient powers to ensure extradition and enabling those who are responsible to face justice.
JOURNALIST: If Russia doesn’t co-operate though, do you have any hope that those people will be brought to justice?
WONG: We cannot allow Russian obstruction to prevent us from finding out who did this. Nothing less is expected.
JOURNALIST: Are there any other ways this could be investigated if not a Lockerbie-style tribunal?
WONG: The first proposition is that the world community should act. If Russia seeks to prevent that, we cannot allow that to prevent a tribunal with the appropriate powers being established and we offer to the Government full bipartisan support for every effort to ensure that justice is found for these victims
JOURNALIST: How would you describe the behaviour of Russia and President Putin in the latest violence in Aleppo?
WONG: What is happening in Aleppo is nothing short of barbaric. It is the indiscriminate killing of civilians, of men, women and children. It is attacks on civilian targets such as hospitals. It is attacks on aid convoys. These are awful, these are disgusting, these are barbaric acts. And what we would say to Russia is you uniquely have an opportunity to stop these actions. You uniquely have an opportunity to prevent further loss of life. You should act.