Tony Abbott says he’ll shirt front Vladimir Putin over MH17
PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has warned Russian President Vladamir Putin he will “shirt front” him when he arrives in Australia next month for the G20.
Mr Abbott said today that if the Russian president turned up to next month’s event he would be told in “no uncertain terms” Australia’s attitude to what had been done in Eastern Europe, which he described as an atrocity that had befallen its citizens.
Earlier, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten accused Mr Putin of knowing more about the downing of Malaysia Airlines MH17 in July than he was letting on, and indicated he believed the Abbott government should have pressed the international community harder to ban the Russian President from attending the economic summit.
“Our demand for Russia is that it cooperates fully and constructively with the criminal investigation so that justice can be done,” Mr Abbott said.
“I am going to shirt front Mr Putin, you bet I am, I am going to be saying to Mr Putin ‘Australians were murdered’.
“They were murdered by Russian-backed rebels using Russian supplied equipment and we are very unhappy about this.”
The Prime Minister said that Australia could not ban Mr Putin from attending given that decision would have to be by consensus and the G20 consensus was that Mr Putin should attend.
“I think there will be a lot of tough conversations with Russia and I suspect that the conversation I have with Mr Putin will be the toughest conversation of all,” he said.
Mr Abbott made the comments in Queensland’s Bowen Basin today where he officially opened BHP Billiton’s new $3.9 billion Caval Ridge coal mine.
Australia’s coal industry was shocked last week to learn that China would impose a tariff on coal imports from this Wednesday, a blow to a sector that is already struggling.
Mr Abbott said he was disappointed by the announcement of the new import tax and said it highlighted the importance of the free trade agreement, which the government was working towards with China.
“ I very much hope we can land it (FTA) at, or before, the G20 in Brisbane next month,” he said.