The Hamilton Spectator – August 15, 2015
WANNON MP Dan Tehan has called for the Royal Australian Air Force to expand its current bombing campaign against ISIS terrorists in Iraq to include Syria.
Mr Tehan made the call in an opinion piece published by the Herald Sun on Thursday, arguing that Australia had an obligation to act in Syria to prevent terrorism at home and stop atrocities overseas.
“We are acting in Iraq against Daesh (ISIS) with our Hornets launching air strikes on a regular basis. We should be doing the same in Syria,” Mr Tehan wrote.
“It is in our interests to end the suffering of its civilians and to degrade the Daesh ‘caliphate’, which continues to shine as a beacon for global terrorism.”
Australia currently has F/A-18 Hornet jets stationed in the Middle East to attack terrorist targets in Iraq at the request of that nation’s government.
Launching military action might involve a different legal process despite Australia not recognising the legitimacy of Syria’s government, which as been attacking its own people as part of a brutal civil war.
Mr Tehan is chair of the Parliament’s Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, which is mandated with reviewing spying and counter-terror laws.
The PJCIS does not have an explicit mandate to recommend military action but Mr Tehan invoked his recent meetings with security agencies in France, the UK and USA as part of his argument for bombing Syria.
— Dan Tehan (@DanTehanWannon) August 13, 2015
The Spectator asked Mr Tehan if Parliament should vote on the proposal.
“Like our contribution to the effort in Iraq, any contribution to the effort in Syria would need to be decided by the National Security Committee in consultation with our allies,” Mr Tehan said.
“After doing this with regard to Iraq, the Prime Minister made a statement in Parliament.”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he supported Mr Tehan’s suggestion, but no formal process had begun to expand Australian airstrikes to Syria.
When asked if Australia should also take military action against the Syrian Government, whose campaign of mass murder, torture and rape mirrors that of ISIS, Mr Tehan said an end to that conflict should come through the United Nations.
“Australia must do its part now to assist the fight against Daesh,” he said.
“On the broader question of the civil war in Syria, the international community needs to come together at the UN and bring about a resolution to the conflict, with leadership from the UN Security Council.”
Lowy Institute research fellow and former Army officer, Associate Professor Rodger Shanahan, has labelled Mr Tehan’s Syria call “bizarre” and argued it would stretch Australia’s military resources.
— Rodger Shanahan (@RodgerShanahan) August 13, 2015
Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek told ABC radio that she agreed Syria was a humanitarian disaster but criticised how the push to expand RAAF bombing was announced.
“I think it’s extraordinary, frankly, that the Government sent out a backbencher to start floating ideas without any clear proposal, without any explanation to the Australian people of what the legal basis would be, what the mission would be, what success would look like,” she said.