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Australian Government’s Support for ISIL victims
It is with profound sadness and concern for the terrorised men, women and children in Iraq and Syria that all of us rise to speak about the developing situations in the region. In supporting the Prime Minister’s statement to the parliament on Monday, I want to reiterate that everybody in the Australian government is steadfast in our support for decency and our solidarity with the Iraqis and Syrians suffering at the hands of ISIL.
The brutality of the hate-fuelled terrorist movement which, as the Prime Minister said on Monday, offensively calls itself the Islamic State knows no bounds. Each and every day media reports come out of the region describing mass executions, beheadings, crucifixions and other torturous acts carried out by this death cult. Even worse, is the gruesome footage that ISIL distributes on the internet to revel in their killing of innocent people—people who have done nothing except fail to conform to their medieval, narrow view of the world.
Just this morning, we received reports of ISIL posting footage of the purported beheading of a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff, and exulting in this cruellest form of barbarism. My heart goes out to his family and to the thousands of families in Iraq and Syria, whose names we do not know, but who also mourn their loved ones following the mass killings meted out by ISIL.
As Australians, we cannot stand by and watch such suffering. We cannot hear reports of a potential genocide developing and turn away. It is simply not in our nature. Our history has shown time and again that as a country we will not let pure evil reign unchecked nor fail to come to the aid of vulnerable people. We do not seek out conflict, but we do play our part in resolving it and in assisting people in need. The current situation in Iraq is no different. As the Prime Minister said in his statement to the parliament on Monday, we cannot in good conscience let the Iraqi people face this horror alone, or ask others to do in the name of human decency what we will not do ourselves. So, as a government and with the valued support of the Australian people, we are doing what is decent and right and providing military and humanitarian assistance to besieged people in the region.
I wish to acknowledge the leadership of our Prime Minister, whose compelling statement to the House reinforced the pressing need for our action, and also the foreign minister, who has been a vocal advocate on the international stage for strong condemnation of ISIL and for humanitarian support. At the request of the United States, and as part of a multinational effort, we have successfully transported stores of military equipment, including arms and munitions. Australian aircraft have also assisted in successful airdrops of food, water and hygiene supplies to people trapped on Mount Sinjar and in the town of Amerli.
We have done this with the support of the Iraqi government, and we stand ready to provide further assistance as required. We will do all that we reasonably can to alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people and to put a halt to ISIL’s barbarism. We will also be relentless in our pursuit of the terrorists who have betrayed this country and lost their right to call themselves Australians by joining the ISIL forces. At least 60 Australian citizens are thought to be fighting with ISIL, some of them boasting on social media of their hideous, inhumane acts, with about another 100 or so providing support. These people must know this: if they return to this country they will be caught and punished with the full force of the law.
In conclusion, I want to commend the Prime Minister and the foreign minister for their moral courage in the face of pure evil. I also want to commend the Australian people who have provided us with the support to be able to undertake these actions on their behalf. I also want to reiterate my support for further humanitarian actions in Iraq and Syria, if necessary.