CANBERRA – Treasurer Scott Morrison has insisted Australia is already pulling above its weight militarily against Islamic State jihadists, as the Turnbull Government considers what more it can do in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris.
The Prime Minister is among world leaders at the G20 Summit in Turkey discussing a response to the killings as France declares war on the terrorists and a “war for civilisation.”
The death toll for the weekend, co-ordinated attacks in the French capital has risen to 132 as victims in hospital succumb to horrific injuries.
On the G20 summit’s sidelines, the Presidents of the United States and Russia have agreed on a United Nations role to end the bloodshed in Syria, which corresponds with Turnbull’s earlier indication that Australia may play a peacekeeping role in Syria.
Defence Minister Marise Payne indicated Monday Australia will carefully consider any requests made by allies, while Morrison insists Australia can only be part of wider retaliatory action.
“We have every right to be furious and angry, but at the same time when you are committing Australian lives into those sorts of zones you must do it in a very clearheaded way,” the Treasurer told Macquarie radio.
“The suggestion that somehow Australia, acting unilaterally, can go and change the situation in the Middle East is foolhardy.”
“We are already performing well above our weight when it comes to our involvement in Iraq.”
“We are doing what would be expected of a nation like Australia and we are doing more than that.”
The Presidents of the United States and Russia have agreed on a United Nations role to end the bloodshed in Syria, as the Paris attacks jolted G20 leaders into seeking a united front against Islamic State jihadists.
France has unleashed a series of strikes against the IS stronghold of Raqqa.
The French Ambassador to Australia Christophe Lecourtier has indicated there is more to come, saying France will continue to show strength.
“Now this morning the French Air Force has launched a strike on Raqqa. I'm pretty sure it will not be the last one,” he told the ABC.
“It's a very, very clear response to the act of war.”
“What I want to stress is that it's not a war of civilisation. It's a war for civilisation.”
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has described as “perfectly reasonable” discussion about being appointed permanently to the National Security Committee of Cabinet.
The position of Immigration Minister as removed permanent from the NSC under the Turnbull Government.
Dutton has occasionally attended meetings of the powerful grouping which includes the Prime Minister, Defence and Foreign Minister, but there have been calls – including from prominent Liberal MP Andrew Nikolic – to make the Immigration Minister a permanent member in light of the Paris attacks and the refugee crisis in Europe.
Nikolic is concerned by suggestions that the Paris terrorists may have hidden as humanitarian arrivals and he’s been backed by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who in Monday said, “The Minister for Border Protection is, in my judgment, a significant part of our national security machinery.”
Dutton has praised Nikolic as “one of our finest in Parliament having served our country for 30 years in the army” and said he makes a good point.
“Border security is very important to our national security and the Prime Minister obviously recognises that, of course he does,” he told Fairfax radio.
“The Prime Minister made it clear that (decision on NSC membership) was under review and I think that’s perfectly reasonable.”
“No doubt it will be considered in the coming days and weeks.”
In a blog for The Huffington Post Australia, Liberal MP Ewen Jones has urged Australians not to use the events in Paris to attack Australia's immigration policy."
But, Dutton has been forced to rejects calls by NSW Nationals MP Andrew Fraser to close Australia’s borders to Middle Eastern refugees.
Fraser sent a “Message to Malcolm Turnbull” on his public page on Facebook, saying there are “enough Anarchists” resident in Australia and “Australia does not need Middle Eastern refugees or Islamic boat people!”
The first of 12,000 refugees from the conflict in Syria and Iraq will soon arrive in Australia.
The Immigration Minister has told Channel Seven the call to close Australia’s border is not being considered.