CANBERRA – Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has vowed the international community will take action to ensure the downing of a commercial aircraft never happens again.
Dutch authorities have officially confirmed crashed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down in July last year by a Russian-made BUK missile fired from eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board including 38 Australians.
In its final report, the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) does not apportion blame, but concludes that MH17 crashed as a result of a warhead detonating just above, and to the left, of the plane's cockpit.
Bishop has described the report as “brutal” and “distressing”, however she said it aligns with the Australia Government’s initial view of the tragedy, that the Boeing 777 was downed by a surface to air missile from an area held by Russian-backed separatists.
Further, the former Prime Minister Tony Abbott had angered Russia by quickly blaming pro-Russian separatists.
“As least we know the cause and we will continue to pursue the perpetrators of this crime,” Bishop told Sky News.
“We must take action so this does not happen again.”
A separate Dutch-led criminal inquiry, which is expected to find who was responsible for the tragedy, is due deliver its findings by the end of the year.
Russia has already rejected the Dutch Safety Board report as biased and has always denied involvement in the crash.
It has used its veto power at the United Nations Security Council to block resolutions relating to the loss of MH17.
The Foreign Minister, who is in Boston for talks with the U.S. Secretary of State and Defence Secretary, has declared the international community will press on.
“Once that (criminal) report has been concluded, then we need to have a prosecuting authority to receive it so we can hold the perpetrators of this atrocity to account,” she told reporters in Boston.
“I don't believe we will be blocked by anyone. We certainly won't be bullied by anyone.
“We will continue to pursue justice for the families and the loved ones of those aboard MH17.”
The son of Queensland couple Roger and Jill Guard, who were among those killed aboard MH17, said the report confirms what the families had suspected.
“I blame the conflict. I think it's a complex situation,” Paul Guard told ABC News Breakfast.
“I hope that all parties can find a long-term peaceful solution because, you know, it's really a terrible situation. I feel very badly for all the locals involved on the ground as well.”
He believed the 90 seconds his parents may have been alive, was not too long.
“I think all the information we have indicates they didn't suffer terribly so that's a good outcome, I suppose, if you can call it a good outcome,” he said.
Labor’s Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek has told reporters in Canberra that Russia should not "pretend this is not a credible report.”
“I think the Russian Government and the makers of this missile system should stop pretending that this is a politically motivated investigation," she said.
“This is a very serious and credible report.”
61 other planes were in the sky over eastern Ukraine when the Kuala Lumpur-bound aircraft crashed last year in rebel-held eastern Ukraine.
The DSB said Ukraine should have closed the airspace over the country's east while pro-Russian separatists battled government troops.
The Dutch investigators found hundreds of fragments of the BUK missile in the bodies of three crew in the cockpit.
The crew members were killed instantly, but the board said that passengers may have been conscious, or at least alive, for a minute and a half after the detonation.
“Some of the findings are brutal in their frank assessment of what could have gone on,” Bishop said.
“There is probably very little comfort for the families and the loved ones.”
The report confirmed that the conflict held up the recovery mission and investigation.
Relatives had to wait for up to four days for Dutch authorities to confirm their loved ones had been on the plane.