News National Prime Minister slams MH17 site handling as ‘absolutely shambolic’
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Prime Minister slams MH17 site handling as ‘absolutely shambolic’

Tony Abbott
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Prime Minister Tony Abbott has described the MH17 recovery operation as an “absolutely shambolic situation”, likening it to a “garden clean up”.

As speculation continues as to where the bodies of victims have been taken to, Mr Abbott said that the priority of the Australian government was to retrieve the bodies, investigate the site and punish the guilty.

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• Leaders pressure Putin for MH17 assistance 

In a strongly-worded press conference, Mr Abbott said that there was “no doubt” that the aircraft was shot down.

The prime minister confirmed that he had spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin overnight, but would not be moved on the details of the conversation.

“I don’t think its fair to my international interlocutors to go into great detail as to the nature of the conversation,” said Mr Abbott in a press conference this morning.

“I want to stress that what he said was fine,” he said.

“The challenge now is to hold the president to his word.”

Mr Abbott said the mood amongst world leaders was stern, using firm language about the accident as he addressed media.

“All of the leaders I have spoken to are in much firmer and sterner mood than they were 48 hours ago, and we should be encouraged by this, because it is an accident, not a crime.”

Australian investigators have been sent to the scene on request of the Ukrainian government, along with some 45 Australian officials.

Mr Abbott said that Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was working indefatigably in New York in order to round up the numbers for a United Nations Security Council investigation.

The resolution would enable the international community access to the site which is currently under the control of pro-Russian separatist soldiers.

“Our objective has got to be to secure and police the sight. Thhere’s no doubt that at the moment the site is under the control of the Russian-backed rebels,” said the prime minister.

“Given the almost certain culpability of the Russian-backed rebels, having them in control of the site is a little like having criminals in control of a crime scene.”