Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 12 February 2015
Page: 639

Iraq and Syria


Senator MILNE (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (14:48): My question is to Senator Abetz, the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Given the serious danger in which the government is putting our men and women in the armed services by sending them to Iraq and in light of President Obama's request to congress to authorise endless war against anyone he wants wherever he wants, has here been any approach to the United States or from the United States for Australia to expand or increase our military engagement in Iraq or beyond Iraq? If so, when and what has transpired?


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:49): In relation to the specifics of the question, I will take that part on notice. I am not aware of any such requests, but I will take that part on notice. But, in general, let me make this very, very important point: we as a government will join with all the other democratic and peace-loving countries of the world to try to eradicate evil which is, unfortunately, creating a presence in Syria and Iraq. We have seen not only the evil of that movement played out there but also adherents to it locally. We have seen it around the world as well. We have a duty not only to ourselves but to the world community to ensure that this evil does not get a foothold, and therefore I am—as is the government, as are all my colleagues—committed to ensuring that that which needs to be done is done to eradicate that evil.

As a result, we are happy to join with other countries such as Iraq, noting that Iraq has a very senior government representative here in discussion with our very own Minister for Foreign Affairs today. I understand that official will in fact be meeting with the Prime Minister after question time.

So we are concerned to eradicate this evil and work with others. As to specific requests from the United States, I will take that on notice.


Senator MILNE (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (14:50): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Since the Prime Minister committed to send Australians to war in Iraq as soon as the United States did and without any request from Iraq at the time, will the government now rule out categorically any further mission creep, any broadening of the engagement in the war in Iraq, any further boots on the ground or increased scope of combat operations?


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:51): I do not agree with the premise of the question, No. 1; but, No. 2, we will do that which is responsible and necessary to deal with the evil of ISIS. If the honourable senator thinks that by stamping feet in this Senate we can somehow repel that evil, I would love to see it, because that of course would be the best methodology. But I think we understand that that does not work—nor does holding hands, singing 'Kumbaya' work. Unfortunately, this evil does need to be dealt with by force, and that is what we as a government are working on, together with a whole coalition of countries right around the world. I regret that the action is necessary but it is necessary, and for the future safety of people right around the world this evil needs to be eradicated. (Time expired)


Senator MILNE (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (14:52): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Given that Senator Abetz has not ruled out expanding engagement for Australia in Iraq and Syria, and given President Obama wrote to congress seeking its support for a changed authorisation for military engagement against ISIL, will the government now commit to bringing it to the Australian parliament if any changes are made to the nature and scope of the engagement in which Australia's men and women of the armed forces are already in Iraq. (Time expired)


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:53): As the honourable senator knows, from time to time the Defence minister makes a statement to the parliament indicating where we are at at any particular stage in any particular situation. To broadcast beforehand that we as a parliament might decide that we will send more planes, more support, to get onto this particular target, can I simply say, that sort of advance warning and notice to the enemy might not necessarily be the smartest or most strategic move. Therefore, I cannot guarantee to the senator that we will be seeking the parliament's approval for the nature and scope of every particular manoeuvre that may or may not be engaged in. The task is to get rid of this evil, and it just beggars belief that the Australian Greens will not— (Time expired)