US Alliance remains at centre of counter-terrorism stance, says PM – December 2016
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the latest propaganda from Daesh (Islamic State) used footage of Australian locations and Australian icons in a call for further attacks against the West.
“Daesh will continue doing this in an attempt to intimidate us. But they will not succeed,” he said in a statement to Parliament.
“My Government and our agencies are committed to decisive action to combat and defeat Daesh through the United States-led coalition in the Middle East.
“In this fight, as with virtually every other significant security challenge facing our country, our Alliance with the United States is the foundation of our national security architecture.
“Australia’s trusted solidarity with the United States is based on mutual respect - we and we alone determine whether and how our forces are put in harm’s way - but the closeness of our relationship ensures that no ally has more influence than we do.
“That influence is one which is highly valued now and in the future, as President Obama has reminded us.
“Those who assert that our ties and our Alliance with the United States should be reconsidered, fail to recognise that a strong, trusted, forthright Australia is a powerful force for good whether it is on the fields of conflict or in the corridors of power in Washington.
“The fact is that the United States remains our most important strategic and defence ally.
“This was on display only last week [November 16] when I took part in the first Australian flight of the new P-8A Poseidon aircraft - developed between Australia and the United States Navy.
“And in relation to counter-terrorism cooperation, our collaborative screening of refugees from the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts has identified 22 persons of national security concern.
“Right now, Iraqi defence forces, including units trained by the Australian Army, are making real progress in the liberation of Mosul from Daesh.
“The contribution of the ADF to the defence of Iraq, working with the United States and other Coalition forces, has been critically important - as has been acknowledged by President Obama and indeed by the Prime Minister of Iraq itself.
“Daesh is under increasing pressure. It is losing territory, finance and fighters.
“It’s so called caliphate and its illusion of invincibility is being shattered.
“And as Daesh loses ground, many hundreds of foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq may seek to return to their countries of origin, including in our region - especially Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines as well as Australia itself.
“Our law enforcement and security agencies have long been prepared for this challenge and are constantly monitoring for any shift in the threat environment ahead.”
Mr Turnbull accused Labor of putting Australia's security at risk by questioning the US alliance following Donald Trump's election victory. A week after Mr Trump's victory over Hillary Clinton sent shock waves around the world, Mr Turnbull seized on an opinion piece by Senator Wong for Fairfax Media that flagged the opposition would reassess the long-standing alliance and put more emphasis on engagement with Asia. Senator Wong said Australia “should not be naive” and that “we are at a change point, and face the possibility of a very different world and a very different America”. However, she also stressed there would still strong bipartisan political support for the US alliance.
Mr Turnbull said, “ You have Penny Wong going in one direction, wanting to move away from our strongest, most important, most trusted, most enduring ally, wanting to move away, put our nation's security at risk. On the other hand you have the Right of the party trying to crab-walk back from where she has gone.
“Labor is hopelessly divided on national security; they are hopelessly divided on border protection.”