Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he is going to "shirtfront" Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit over the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines plane MH17 in which 38 Australians lost their lives.

The Kuala Lumpur-bound flight was cruising at around 30,000ft when it was hit by a Soviet Buk Missile over eastern Ukraine on 17 July – killing all 298 people on board including 80 children.

Abbott said the passengers were murdered by Russian-backed rebels and would be seeking assurances from the Russian president that "justice is done". Russia has always denied any involvement in the incident, blaming Ukrainian forces.

He told reporters on Monday, 13 October he was going "shirtfront" Putin at the G20 meeting in Brisbane in November.

"I am going to be saying to Putin that Australians were murdered. They were murdered by Russian-backed rebels using Russian-supplied equipment," he told Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Bill Shorten, opposition leader, believes the Russian president should "show enough conscience" to stay away from the G20 summit and that his presence would be "rubbing our faces" following the tragedy, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Australian government, however, is powerless to stop Putin from attending the international conference without the consensus of the other G20 members.

"It's not Australia's right to say yes or no to individual members of the G20. Russia is a member of the G20 and as such, we're obliged to accept the Russian leader in this country," Abbott added.

Shorten told the Herald: "There's plenty of evidence to indicate indirect if not direct Russian involvement in the shooting down of this plane which saw hundreds of souls snatched away from their families with no justification or rationale.

"How is it the President of the Russian Federation Putin will thumb his nose at the rest of the world, go wherever he wants without there being any repercussions or any cooperation with the independent investigation as to how this happened?

"I believe Putin knows more about what happened with MH17 than he lets on."