The Federal Government is facing growing pressure to ban Russian president Vladimir Putin from attending this year’s G20 leaders meeting in Australia.
It comes in response to the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, with Australia blaming Russian-backed rebels for the attack.
Twenty-eight Australians died on board the flight which was shot down by a ground-to-air missile, killing all 298 passengers and crew.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has described it as an “unspeakable crime”, and has demanded Russia cooperate with an international investigation.
“There can be no excuses, no buck-passing, no blame-shifting,” he said on Friday.
The comments have prompted an angry rebuke from Russia, accusing Mr Abbott of relying on speculation, rather than evidence, in deciding guilt.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has backed the Government and says if Russia does not cooperate, Mr Putin should not be invited to the G20 summit.
“It is in the best interests of the world to have a full, transparent, independent investigation,” he said.
“If the Russian Federation doesn’t co-operate and help us get to the heart of what has really happened in this senseless act of murder, the Government should indeed consider not inviting Mr Putin to Australia.
“I don’t believe Australians would want him here in those circumstances.”
Mr Abbott spoke with US president Barack Obama this morning about the Malaysia Airlines tragedy.
Newman backs call for thorough investigation
The comments have been echoed by Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, who will welcome world leaders to Brisbane later this year.
Mr Newman says the Russian president will not be welcome in Queensland unless he fully supports a thorough investigation into the tragedy.
“If Mr Putin is not prepared to do that, frankly I believe that Queenslanders don’t want him here at the G20,” he said.
“He has the opportunity to demonstrate some good faith. That can be done by properly getting behind international efforts to get to the bottom of what is clearly in my view a crime, a terrible crime.”
Bishop says Russia refusing to talk on MH17
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop says it is “extraordinary” that her Russian counterparts have refused to speak to her over the downing of Malaysia Airlines plane.
She told ABC’s Lateline program she initially tried to speak with Russian foreign affairs minister Sergey Lavrov, but was told he was on holidays.
“I then asked to speak to a deputy or a vice minister but I’ve now been told that I won’t be able to speak to anybody in the ministry of foreign affairs in Moscow,” she said.
She said no time was set, and she was told a phone call was “not possible”.
Ms Bishop called on Russia, which denies involvement in the incident, to support a “thorough and independent investigation as soon as possible”.
“If Russia believes that Ukraine is responsible then Russia surely would be supporting such an investigation,” she said.
“I asked for assurances that Russian weapons or equipment had not been used to bring down this plane and [Russian ambassador to Australia Vladimir Morozov] said that there was no Russian equipment being supplied to the separatists.
“I found that a remarkable statement. He did admit that the separatists may well have the equipment to do this, because he suggested that they had captured a surface-to-air missile from Ukraine recently but they didn’t have the capability to operate it.”
Ms Bishop confirmed Australia has established its own investigation team and would be seeking access to the site.
“We are seeking representatives from the relevant countries. We will seek a binding resolution. I’ve been on the phone to a number of people on the security council to get that support,” she said.
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