Govt may compensate MH17 airline disaster victims

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has sought advice on the potential to offer the families of the 28 Australian victims of the MH17 tragedy compensation for their losses.

Mr Abbott on Monday told reporters in Canberra he had not yet declared the shooting down of the plane, by what was believed to be Russia-backed rebels in the Ukraine an "act of terrorism".

But he confirmed he had sought advice on making the declaration, in a move towards being able to offer the families of the victims compensation under the government's new scheme for such acts overseas.

The scheme was used earlier in the government's term to offer compensation to the families of victims of the Bali bombings, and could yet be available for those related to the 28 Australia-born victims and potentially the nine other permanent residents.

Families would be eligible for compensation of up to $75,000 if the tragedy is declared a terrorist act.

Mr Abbott said he had also spoken to the leaders of all the nation members of the United Nations Security Council, except China, since the devastating downing of the plane last week.

He said he also spoke to several other national leaders, including the United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron and leaders of France, Germany, Malaysia, New Zealand, Ukraine and the Netherlands.

Mr Abbott said the response from all nations to what was believed to be a terrorist attack, was one of "firmer and sterner" concern about the incident.

Mr Abbott this morning revealed he has spoken to Vladimir Putin for the first time since the shooting down of the plane.

Russia has been rejecting claims of its involvement in the downing of MH17, instead implying the government in Kiev might be responsible.

Mr Abbott, who is demanding Russia cooperate with an international investigation, says the Russian leader is saying the right things and needs to follow through with actions, the ABC reported.

"Now he has to be as good as his word. And I will be speaking regularly to the Russian president to do my best to hold him to his word," Mr Abbott told Macquarie Radio after the talks.



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