We cannot stand by while terrorism happens in Iraq

I also rise to support the Prime Minister’s statement on Iraq and Syria. Let us be clear, what we are seeing is terrorism. Terrorism is a force of asymmetric warfare, which is abhorrent to all Australians. Terrorism, as we are seeing, is defined by violent acts that create fear or terror.

That is their intent. It is widely recognised that aspects of asymmetric warfare have existed throughout history, and there are numerous examples. However, this type of warfare induces increasing levels of violence just to wield power over people or regions, and that is exactly what we are seeing.

The fact is it has now been brought much closer to the Australian shores, which is demonstrated by the very strong support that Australians are offering in actions overseas.

The Australian people have graphically witnessed some of the atrocities occurring in Iraqi and Syria and the tactics adopted by ISIL. They have been widely reported. There is no doubt that our hearts go out to the families of those involved in the recent beheadings of US citizens and we are seeing further threats to British citizens as well. You can only imagine what their families are going through.

These dreadful acts were outlined by Senator David Johnston in his speech on 1 September. He articulated the actions: the targeted killings, the beheadings, the forced conversions, abductions, trafficking and sexual slavery.

These clearly demonstrate the power that terrorists wield over women and children in what they do and how they do it. More disturbingly, they have been using technology to basically promote their activities and for recruiting purposes. In short, they seek to create fear amongst populations and ingrain their extreme acts across the media.

We have taken action. I am very, very supportive of the actions that the Prime Minister and Australia are taking, because they are exactly what people in this country expect us to do. The Royal Australian Air Force delivered humanitarian aid to those trapped on Mount Sinjar as a result of ISIL.

The Royal Australian Air Force offers a quick and ready response with a very limited footprint on the countries involved. We will provide weapons and logistical support to Kurdish fighters in their efforts to protect innocent civilians, including men, women and children, and provide much needed basic supplies.

The Prime Minister has made it very clear that Australia will not and will never tolerate this form of terrorism. We are assessing security threats all of the time and monitoring suspected members within Australia and their linkages to overseas partnerships. We have a very clear responsibility to the people of Australia and it is something that we take very seriously. This is exactly what Australians expect us to do in this circumstance.

They have an expectation that we will do everything we can to protect them, and that is what this government is doing with the investment of $630 million to counter violent extremism and radicalisation and to boost our associated counter-terrorism agency capabilities. Of course, there is much needed investment in the safety of the Australian community. These agencies also need the jurisdiction to act upon information that is collected, and that will allow increased agency interoperability, which is very important in this process.

While we have deployed air assets, Air Force provides more than just transport and the delivery of humanitarian aid. It can offer control of the air and targeted strike capabilities, all done with a limited footprint on the ground. The government have thought very carefully about each of the actions we have decided to take. We are very mindful of any deployment of ADF assets and of course the ADF members who, as we all respect, put their lives on the line every time this parliament and the government make a decision.

Having spent a lot of time—as much time as I could manage—with Defence members in the Defence Force Parliamentary Program, I am always respectful of and have a great level of confidence in the training and the qualities of the people in our Defence Force. I also understand that they have families.

I also understand the impact that the decisions we make has on those same families. However, each one of those members of the Defence forces, their families and every Australian expect us to take a firm stand on this and to demonstrate very clearly to those who are involved in this type of terrorist activity that this is not, and never will be, acceptable within Australia or anywhere in the world. We cannot stand by. We cannot stand by. Doing nothing is not an option. Doing nothing is not an option.

We know that Australia boasts a very rich blend of multiculturalism, and it has enhanced our country in so many ways. We live in a country that has not faced the atrocities that we are seeing in the Middle East, and we never want to. We never want to.

Moving on, this government has a direct responsibility to protect Australia, our people and our strategic interests both now and into the future.

We want this legacy to continue for our children and their children, and as Australians we have the right—a very hard fought right—to the freedom of religion and speech and the freedom to live our lives as we want, based on respect and within the laws of our country.

No-one has the right to threaten this or take it away, least of all those that we see active in Syria and Iraq—particularly those who are taught to kill anyone who does not agree with their beliefs. I support the Prime Minister’s description of these as acts of ‘pure evil’, and I support the response of the Prime Minister and this government.