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‘Grim day for our country’

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Prime Minister Tony Abbott has addressed parliament following the MH17 tragedy, calling it “a grim day for our country and a grim day for our world”.

The remarks follow the news that 27 Australians were killed in the horrific accident, which saw a Malaysian Airlines flight bound for Kuala Lumpur reportedly shot down in Ukraine by Russian separatists.

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“We can’t restore them to life, but we can and will do everything to support them [the families] in this sad and bitter time because that is the Australian way – we help in times of trouble,” said Mr Abbott.

“This looks less like an accident than a crime. If so, the perpetrators must be brought to justice.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten echoed Mr Abbott’s sentiments, calling the accident “a tyrannical and wild act”.

“I rise to support the words of the Prime Minister this morning,” said Mr Shorten. “This news that we woke up to this morning is worse than shocking. It is debilitating and bewildering … ”

Opposition leader Bill Shorten addresses parliament. Photo: AAP

It has been revealed that a large number of people killed in the tragedy were AIDS researchers travelling to Melbourne for an international AIDS conference.

The Prime Minister called for a full investigation into the crash.

“I can inform the house that as quickly as possible, Australia will be working at the United Nations Security Council for a binding resolution, calling for a full and impartial investigation,” said Mr Abbott.

Mr Shorten said that the Labor Party would support the government.

“Labor supports the chorus internationally calling for a full independent international investigation into this tragedy,” said the Opposition Leader.

Usually widely divided, all parties in the lower house were united in their condemnation of the reported attack.

Greens MP Adam Bandt said that thousands of lives had been touched by the tragedy.

“As the member for Melbourne and on behalf of the Greens I would like to associate myself with the remarks of the PM and the leader of the opposition,” said Mr Bandt.

“We are mourning with all the world,” said Speaker Bronwyn Bishop before asking parliament to stand in a mark of respect.

International reaction

US president Barack Obama said the world was “watching reports of a downed passenger jet near the Russia/Ukraine border, and it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy”.

“I have directed my national security team to stay in close contact with the Ukrainian government. The United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened and why.

“And as a country, our thoughts and prayers are with all the families of the passengers, wherever they call home.”

US President Barack Obama and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko have agreed in a telephone call on the need to prevent tampering with debris from the Boeing 777 jet that crashed in rebel-held eastern Ukraine after apparently being hit by a surface-to-air missile.

“The presidents emphasised that all evidence from the crash site must remain in place on the territory of Ukraine until international investigators are able to examine all aspects of the tragedy,” the White House said.

The statement raised the possibility that US officials are concerned pro-Russian forces could try to tamper with the evidence of the wrecked aircraft to cover up who is to blame.

—with AAP