The Aussies get it, does our government? What about the opposition?

Julie Bishop, Australia’s Foreign Minister, has returned from the US and a briefing about foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria…and she is rightfully concerned.

I wonder if our government is concerned as they should be, and I really wonder if the opposition parties, the Greens in particular actually understand the issue at all.

FOREIGN Minister Julie Bishop says she is ?even more troubled? by the threat of foreign fighters in the Middle East following briefings with US officials, as Tony Abbott said he was willing to consider expanding Australia?s military role in Iraq.

Australia is facing increasing pressure to upgrade its military commitment in Iraq after US President Barack Obama used his State of the Union address yesterday to strengthen the international effort to ?degrade and ultimately destroy? the terrorist threat posed by Islamic State.

Ms Bishop, who is attending high-level meetings in Washington, said the terrorist threat was spreading far beyond that posed by Islamic State.

?I?m even more troubled by the phenomena of foreign fighters because of the way that they are organised, because of the way they are metastasising, that we are seeing al-Qa?ida, al-Nusra, al-Qa?ida in the Arabian Peninsula, claiming to have taken part in attacks so it?s not just ISIL,? she said.

?The focus has been on ISIL but there are many other terrorist organisations upon whom our focus is warranted.? ??

The Prime Minister, speaking on Melbourne radio, said the government was willing to commit to deeper engagement in Iraq if necessary.

?Our involvement should be prudent and proportionate, and at the moment that?s exactly what it is. We?ve got six Super Hornet strike fighters over there, we?ve got an early warning aircraft, (and) we?ve got a refueller,? he said.

?Our forces are performing magnificently and we?ve also got 200 Special Forces soldiers working with the Iraqi security forces inside Iraq. I certainly don?t rule out doing more but I think it needs to be recognise that we are doing a lot as things stand.?

Even the Federal opposition gets it.

Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek yesterday recommitted support for Australia?s current mission in Iraq.

?If there is a change to the size or make?up of Australia?s military contribution to Iraq, the government has promised to fully brief the opposition,? Ms Plibersek told The Australian.

?Any proposed changes to the existing mission should be fully explained to the Australian people by the Prime Minister.?

Something you won;t here from?the?mouths of Andrew Little or Russel Norman.


– The Australian