Simon Birmingham: Thanks very much for coming along today. The fifth anniversary of the tragic downing of Flight MH17 is an occasion for us to recommit to ensuring justice for the victims and their families of this horrific incident. Australia has worked closely with our international partners — particularly the Netherlands, Malaysia and Belgium — over this period of time to make sure that we get to the bottom of how it is that this tragedy occurred that caused the loss of so many lives, so many Australian lives, and so much hardship, hurt and pain to so many individuals.
The years may have gone by, but our commitment to ensure justice for those lives lost is no less. We will continue the fight to make sure that those responsible for this horrific act are brought to justice. We will ensure that the memories of those lives lost and the pain of those families left in anguish is reflected through continued action.
The work of the Joint Investigation Team, that the Australian Federal Police and Australian authorities have been a core part of, continues, and as is well known now, has led to the identification of four individuals who have been earmarked for prosecution. We urge authorities to co-operate fully with the prosecution of those individuals. We want to make sure that there is justice and finality for the families who have been affected by this incident.
Ultimately, this has been a very complicated investigation, and I pay tribute once again to the work of the Australian Federal Police and all of our international partners who have brought about the detailed forensic, legal, and investigatory arrangements and results that have led to this point where we have such an outcome.
Today, though, we mourn, we reflect, we remember and we recommit to ensure that justice is seen and delivered.
Question: Is it disappointing that here we are five years on and these families still don't have justice?
Simon Birmingham: This has been an incredibly complicated investigation in terms of the international legal factors, the working to difficult environs, and of course ensuring that every step is followed so that we can be clear around the involvement of other nations and ultimately the involvement of individuals.
We are pleased that ahead of reaching this five year anniversary, that work has culminated in the identification of individuals and work towards prosecution of those individuals. Now we want to make sure that prosecution proceeds and is successful, and we urge all those around the world to cooperate to allow that to happen.
Question: So what role will Australia play going forward?
Simon Birmingham: Well, Australia has committed financially to the work of the Joint Investigation Team with manpower through the AFP, and we will continue that close cooperative work that we have with the Netherlands, Malaysia, Belgium and all others in terms of trying to bring finality and justice to those families impacted.
Question: And just on another matter, were any of your acquaintances or Liberal associates approved for a job by Cabinet before the election?
Simon Birmingham: Well, acquaintances or Liberal associates — I’m sure there are people who I know in that sense — but many people are appointed right throughout the parliamentary cycle by governments to fill roles. Some come from parliamentary backgrounds, some are Labor, some are Liberal; many of course are not from parliamentary or political backgrounds as well — ultimately Government gets on with the work of delivering policy, legislating, and filling appropriate appointments for positions across government right up until the point you go into caretaker mode.
Question: So why were there so many jobs approved by Cabinet weeks before the election?
Simon Birmingham: Government gets on with its work right up until the time you go into caretaker mode. You’re not in caretaker mode until the election is called and you enter caretaker mode. Up until then, the Australian people rightly expect us to continue governing.
Question: Can I ask about the Australian citizen Sadam Abudusalamu — what’s the Government trying to do to bring his wife and child here from China?
Simon Birmingham: We’ve engaged, as we do, in a consistent approach in terms of consular activities, representations, and in terms of details around those cases, we usually respect privacy in that regard. But I’d refer you for any details on that to the Department.
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