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Thursday, 19 June 2014
Page: 6733


Mr CRAIG KELLY (Hughes) (14:43): My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the minister advise the House of the Australian government's response to the deteriorating security situation in Iraq?

Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinMinister for Foreign Affairs) (14:44): I thank the member for Hughes for his question. The Australian government condemns in the strongest possible terms the actions of the extreme and brutal terrorist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. ISIL's reported massacre of 1,700 Iraqi defence force personnel and attacks on civilians in Iraq are truly horrifying. The loss of life and the mass displacement of people in Iraqi is devastating. While we have not received a request for assistance from the Iraqi government, today I have announced $5 million in humanitarian aid to support the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing from the violence. Australia's assistance will be provided through the World Food Programme and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. It will provide food, medical assistance, tents, access to clean water and hygiene kits to those displaced by this violence.

Due to the deteriorating security situation, the Australian government has reduced staff numbers at our embassy in Baghdad, leaving only a core. We strongly urge Australians in Iraq to consider departing Iraq immediately, while commercial airlines are operating. Those Australians who choose to remain in Iraq should be aware that we have limited capacity to provide consular assistance.

The government remains in close consultation with the government of Iraq and the United States, the United Kingdom and other partners. We are closely monitoring the situation to ensure that Australians are safe.

We note the Iraqi government's efforts to counter terrorism and fight back against the forces of extremism. The government is deeply concerned that there are Australian citizens travelling to Syria, and we believe to Iraq, to fight with or support terrorist groups. This is against Australian law and, if they return to Australia, they will face the full force of our law. ISIL is listed as a terrorist organisation under Australian law. Our Criminal Code imposes strict penalties, including up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians involved with terrorist organisations.

I have used my authority under the Australian Passports Act to cancel passports and refuse to issue passports, where the government suspects an individual poses a threat to our security. I repeat the government's warning that Australians must not engage with terrorist organisations—any terrorist organisations—anywhere in the world.

Ms Plibersek: On indulgence, I would like to associate the opposition with the minister's remarks.