AFP won't be joined by military in Ukraine recovery mission
AUSTRALIA'S special envoy to the international MH17 mission has said military personnel will not accompany Australian Federal Police members to recovery bodies from the crash site in eastern Ukraine.
Former Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston said it would be a non-threatening force that will be going in to the crash site, which is in the middle of a war-zone, led by civilians and police.
"Australia remains strongly committed to securing Ukrainian ratification of the arrangement for the deployment of our personnel as quickly as possible within the bounds of Ukrainian law and getting our experts out to the crash site," he said.
"Australia's objective is that the remains can be recovered, that the investigation can go ahead and that justice can be done."
It has been more than a week since the Malaysian Airlines plane was blown out of the skies above Ukraine killing 298 people including 37 Australian citizens or permanent residents.
Prime Minster Tony Abbott said at the weekend 'Operation Bring Them Home' would move into a new phase this week.
He stressed it was a humanitarian mission and did not want to get involved in Eastern European politics.
"There are now more than 230 Australian officials who have been deployed or are being deployed to support Operation Bring Them Home," he said.
"The 50 Australian Federal Police officers who had pre-deployed to London are moving forward to the Netherlands where they will be joined by reinforcements from Australia."
Mr Abbott said Australian officials have had access to the crash site over the weekend.
"Plainly, there are unrecovered body remains in the area and it is the presence of unrecovered remains that makes it more important than ever that an international team be dispatched to the site to recover remains, to assist investigation, and to obtain justice," he said.
Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Tanya Plibersek, in a rare show of political support, said on Sunday the opposition had gone out of its way and was fully supportive of the government's efforts in response to the tragedy.
"We think that this is a time for national unity," she said.
"The families of the victims of MH17 want to know that the Government, the Opposition and all Australians are 100% committed to bringing their loved ones home."