What a difference a month makes.

Tony Abbott, 13 October:

“Look, I’m going to shirt-front Mr Putin — you bet I am. I’m going to be saying to Mr Putin — Australians were murdered and they were murdered by Russian-backed rebels using Russian supplied equipment. We are very unhappy about this. We accept that you didn’t want this to happen, but we now demand that you fully cooperate with the criminal investigation, and if the criminal investigation identifies suspects that you have some influence over, they’ve got to be produced and justice has got to be done.”

Tony Abbott, yesterday:

“The first point to make is that there is a big agenda here and conversations with the Russian President on a very important subject are only part, and by no means the biggest part, of the agenda that Australia is following here in Beijing and subsequently in Brisbane. But as is well-known, 38 Australians were murdered when flight MH17 was brought down. It wasn’t a tragedy; it was an atrocity, it was a crime and Russia has said that it will do everything to bring the perpetrators to justice. Good on Russia for saying that and I will just be looking for an assurance from the President that what they said then, they meant, and what they said then is still what they say now.”

From shirt-fronting to “good on Russia” in just four weeks. You weren’t saying one thing for crass domestic political considerations and then quite another when faced with the realities of international relations were you, Prime Minister?

Peter Fray

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