JONES TO THE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Will the Minister update the House on events in Iraq and how Australia is contributing to international efforts there to combat the Daesh death cult?
Ms JULIE BISHOP (Curtin—Minister for Foreign Affairs) (14:13): I thank the member for Herbert for his question and I recognise his deep commitment to the welfare and wellbeing of the defence personnel and families who live in his electorate.
I can confirm that this government will do all it can to keep our defence personnel safe wherever they serve around the world. The brutal and inhumane execution of hostages by Daesh in Iraq and Syria and the terrorist raids in Sydney yesterday demonstrate, yet again, that the international community must do everything it can to combat Daesh, or ISIL.
Terrorism is a global threat and it demands a global response. I have been briefed on the situation in Iraq today by the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Dr Ibrahim Al Jaafari, who is visiting Canberra. It is clear that progress is being made, but there is still some way to go in order to reclaim the territory that Daesh has taken as part of its declaration of a caliphate, and more must be done to defeat Daesh, but defeat it we will.
Minister Al Jaafari has confirmed that Daesh's momentum has been halted in recent months. In some places, it has been forced to retreat. Indeed, General Allen, who is the special envoy for the international coalition to combat ISIL, has confirmed that the Mosul Dam has been taken back. Access to the Rabia crossing into Syria, which Daesh relied upon, has been denied to them, and the siege of the town of Amirli, in northern Iraq, has been broken.
Coalition air strikes have taken out many Daesh targets, and this is placing significant pressure on the terrorists. The Australian Air Task Group, with the grateful consent of the Iraqi government, has made a significant contribution to the international coalition's efforts to disrupt and degrade Daesh. Our air strikes are in fact denying Daesh's freedom of movement and preventing them from being able to mass forces and resupply their fighters in the field. Our aircraft, including six FA18 Super Hornets, have flown more than 500 sorties as part of the international coalition. About 200 of our Special Forces are training and assisting Iraqi military forces to take the fight to Daesh on the ground.
I pay tribute to the courage and commitment of our military personnel. In fact, Dr Al Jaafari also spoke in glowing terms of the contribution that Australian personnel are making in Iraq.
Daesh has, with the assistance of foreign terrorist fighters, including from Australia, inflicted pain and suffering on the people of Iraq. The humanitarian cost has been significant: two million people internally displaced in Iraq alone.
Australia has contributed over $22 million in humanitarian assistance, and this is in addition to the $135 million in humanitarian assistance we provided in response to the Syria crisis. The government is committed to making a significant contribution to these international efforts to combat terrorism. We will keep our nations— (Time expired)
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