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Monday, 19 October 2015
Page: 11499


Mr HASTIE (Canning) (10:44): This private member's motion is about the crisis in Syria and Iraq. The one organisation that unites both those countries is Daesh, so let us keep the eye on the ball and focus on Daesh, which is the threat to both the Middle East and countries around the world. Daesh are the ones exporting terror to Australia, Europe and other countries.

At the recent by-election, the people of Canning expressed to me that they were very concerned about the growing threat of Daesh to Australian security. They want resolve. They want policy that deals with this group, whose aims, methods and world view are inimical to the Australian way of life. So they are not to be taken lightly. Australians expect this government to approach this threat with clear eyes, resolve and coherent policy. The Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs are doing just that.

The member for Bass outlined the current contribution of both diplomatic and military power to the strategy against Daesh, and they were settled upon in a bipartisan spirit. Our ADF has been deployed within this agreed-upon framework. So why are we still talking about this? This is a time for action; it is not a time for flip-flopping, it is not a time for hand-wringing and it is not a time for double-mindedness. The Prime Minister and the foreign minister are very single-minded about this strategy. As the member for Bass outlined, it is about disrupting, degrading and defeating ISIS. We are disrupting them with regular air strikes conducted by our Air Force. We are denying them freedom of action on the ground. We are degrading their command and control. We are degrading their logistics and their moral and material support.

Ultimately Daesh will be defeated by Iraqi forces led by the Iraqi government. We are building partner capacity, with an ADF contribution comprised of Australian regular forces and Special Operations Command. We are training Iraqi troops and counter-terrorism forces. The strategy is very clear. Those three words summarise it very nicely: disrupt, degrade, defeat. Within that there is operational and tactical flexibility. The ADF are pragmatic and they will work it out themselves. We are also conducting strikes in Syria under Iraq's mandate for collective self-defence. We are also contributing to the humanitarian crisis. Since 2011 we have contributed $230 million, and we have just offered places for 12,000 Syrian refugees in this country.

So the strategy is in place and it is working. But, ultimately, like with all wars, the solution must finally be a political one. Our military actions at present are creating space for political dialogue. Ultimately, we want an inclusive, nonsectarian Iraqi government. So why are we now talking about change? The Australian people and the Australian Defence Force expect a strategy that is both long-term and coherent and that gives them clear guidelines for their operational and tactical actions, and I believe that is in place.

Ms Brodtmann: Share it with us.

Mr HASTIE: I just have. So now is the time to move forward behind the current government. ISIS is a grave threat. They have a stronghold in Iraq and Syria. But the threat is spreading. As we saw on 2 October, with the execution of Curtis Cheng, now is not the time to take a backward step. These people are opposed to fundamental morality, to fundamental international law. They do not respect states; they do not respect governments. I ask members opposite: have you seen the videos that these people disseminate around the world via social media? I have, and I am very, very clear-eyed about the threat that Daesh pose to both the Middle East and the West. As you are well aware, when those 20 Coptic Christians were murdered on the beach in Libya, Daesh made it very clear their aims are beyond the Middle East.

Currently we are attacking Daesh with a root-and-branch strategy. We are fighting them in the Middle East, and our domestic counter-terrorism agencies are also taking care of the branches. We have 120 Australians currently supporting or fighting Daesh in the Middle East, and in the last year we have contributed more than $600 million to providing counter-terrorism agencies within Australia with the funding to do their job and protect the Australian people.

Debate adjourned.