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Sky News First Edition with Peter Stefanovic

Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash


Subjects: Russia, Netherlands, Ukraine, MH17, International Civil Aviation Organisation, legal proceedings

PETER STEFANOVIC: Well, let's bring in the Attorney-General Michaelia Cash now for the latest. Thank you for your time this morning. So as we've just seen, it is a great headline, but will it actually achieve anything?

MINISTER CASH: The Australian Government, Peter, had always made it very, very clear, we would undertake everything that we could including legal proceedings to ensure that we get truth, justice and accountability for the victims and their families in relation to the downing of MH17. As you've said, 298 victims, 38 of whom were Australian, this is the next step taken by the Australian Government jointly with the Netherlands to ensure that we can hold Russia fully accountable for the downing of MH17. Truth, justice, accountability, we have always said we would do everything that we could to achieve that.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Does this actually have any teeth, though?

MINISTER CASH: On an international level, the answer is yes. Certainly taking this dispute to the International Civil Aviation Authority is taking it to the highest level, we're asking the International Civil Aviation Authority to formally find that Russia is accountable. That is the accountability. We're also asking them to tell Russia to return to the negotiating table. Russia, as you know, walked away, that is unacceptable. But also at an international level we're asking the ICAO to formally suspend Russia's voting rights. As you know, the ICAO is responsible for civil aviation safety standards. Russia will be voiceless on the international stage if the ICAO does this. But again, it's all about the Australian Government, we said that we would pursue for those 298 victims, for the 38 Australians, truth, justice and accountability and responsibility. And this is the next step in doing that.

PETER STEFANOVIC: We do know what Vladimir Putin thinks of international law. Will he care at all about this?

MINISTER CASH: Well, again, it's not about caring or not caring, it is about holding Russia accountable on the international stage. And certainly what they have done in relation to Ukraine has only reinforced this complimentary step. Again, this occurred, as you know, back in 2014, we have been working day and night since then, to ensure that we get all the facts in place, we have the evidence, and we hold Russia accountable. In 2018, both the Netherlands and Australia formally advised Russia, we hold them accountable for the downing of MH17. We entered into those trilateral negotiations, Russia walked away, that is totally completely and utterly unacceptable. And on the international stage, this is the next formal step in instituting those legal proceedings in the ICAO to ensure that we do get truth, justice and accountability for all victims of MH17.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Do you want millions of dollars in reparation as well? What do you think the likelihood is of getting that?

MINISTER CASH: Well, ultimately, that is a decision for the International Civil Aviation Organisation. But as I said, truth, justice and accountability. In the first instance, what we're very much wanting is that Russia is held formally accountable, that they are told get back to the negotiating table. And if you don't, we formally suspend at that international level, the voting rights on the ICAO. That is a very, very serious move, as you know, on the international stage, but again, we've always said, truth, justice, accountability, surely will not stop to achieve that.

PETER STEFANOVIC: And that is great work. No doubt about that. But you got to admit that the chances of Vladimir Putin stumping up however many millions of dollars is pretty slim, given that he's not really coming to the party at all during this investigation since 2014.

MINISTER CASH: Well, again, truth, justice and accountability. This is Australia and the Netherlands uniting and saying we will do everything that we can to hold Russia accountable. What the Russians have done in relation to Ukraine only reinforces that on the international stage. They do need to be held accountable and to the 298 victims who lost their lives. We will not stop until we achieve that truth, justice and accountability for you.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Okay, that's the Attorney-General Michaelia Cash speaking to us live from Sydney. Thank you very much. We'll talk to you soon.