06/08/2014 - 11:54

Ukraine tragedy reveals can-do attitude: Bishop

06/08/2014 - 11:54

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Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says Australia’s leading role to win international agreement to deal with the aftermath of the MH17 airline crash has underlined the nation’s can-do attitude.

Ukraine tragedy reveals can-do attitude: Bishop
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop at the Australian Institute of Management's breakfast.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says Australia’s leading role to win international agreement to deal with the aftermath of the MH17 airline crash has underlined the nation’s can-do attitude.

Describing her part in the crisis that developed after the Malaysian Airlines flight carrying 38 Australian citizens and residents exploded above fiercely disputed Ukrainian territory, Ms Bishop provided a detailed and, at times, moving account of the frenetic days after the tragedy.

Speaking at an Australian Institute of Management breakfast this morning, the foreign minister praised the instinctive decision making of Prime Minister Tony Abbott as the crisis unfolded – from his early move to address the issue with the Russian ambassador, to his support for a United Nations Security Council resolution backing an independent investigation.

Ms Bishop also highlighted the skills and devotion of the public servants from various branches of government that helped Australia take a key role alongside the Netherlands in brokering a deal in the UN, getting Ukrainian backing, and then becoming directly involved in the investigation in the middle of a war zone.

“Any nation would be proud to have the expertise and skills shown by the people involved,” Ms Bishop said, referring to work of diplomatic staff, federal police and defence personnel, even those seemingly retired such as former air chief marshal Angus Houston, who was on holidays in Texas when asked to be Australia’s special envoy to the investigation team.

Ms Bishop said she believed her direct discussions with leaders and her counterparts from various nations had allowed her to see Australia in a way others see it.

“We are a can-do nation,” she said.

Ms Bishop also praised the role of other nations involved in efforts to secure the return of victims’ remains and to hold an independent investigation, notably the Dutch political leadership, which worked closely with Australia and has taken the lead position in the attempt to determine who was responsible for the disaster.

The MH17 tragedy has had a direct impact in Ms Bishop’s electorate, too, notably in the case of Anthony Maslin and Rin Norris whose three young children, accompanied by their grandfather, were on the flight. 

Ms Bishop became emotional when recalling her initial phone call to the family offering government support and also returned to the well-publicised story of confronting Russia’s ambassador to the UN with the same tragic tale, at which the hardened diplomat fought-back tears.

 

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