Address to Counter-ISIL Foreign and Defence Ministers' Meeting

  • Speech, check against delivery

Colleagues, ISIL or Da'esh remains a significant threat to the global order, despite its recent set backs in Syria and in Iraq.

It would be a grave mistake to assume this group has been defeated by our significant efforts to date or lost its ability to strike us at home.

That is why we must remain united in our opposition to this terrorist organisation, and others – Al Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra – and while we are operating in a complex environment, with competing demands, we must prioritise our goals.

The Coalition was brought together to oppose ISIL and the defeat of it must remain our highest priority given its relentless attacks internationally and notwithstanding the distractions of other demands and imperatives.

ISIL is resilient, it respects no borders, no governments, no laws and no norms of international behaviour.

We must share as much intelligence, information, as possible. For example INTERPOL has more information about many potential terrorists that would assist agencies if fully utilised globally.

We have a responsibility to ensure we have access to all relevant information on existing and potential ISIL operatives worldwide.

This is more critical as we place increasing pressure on ISIL strongholds – for it continues to carry out attacks either directly or in its name, or by those influenced by its propaganda.

As it is forced out of territory in Iraq and Syria ISIL, the tumour as Secretary Carter described it, will metastasise into other parts of the world – including, of deep concern to Australia, in Southeast Asia – as we discussed earlier today.

Importantly, we must build the foundations for long-term peace in Iraq and Syria as ISIL is pushed back.

Security gains will not endure without significant political progress and a sustained focus on reconciliation.

Every effort must be made to address the issues that are driving Iraq's communities apart, and the Iraqi Government must take the lead.

For the Mosul operation it will be critical to get the planning right – not just military, but also political, stabilisation and humanitarian considerations.

If there is to be a successful liberation of Mosul, we cannot afford a repeat of the aftermath in Fallujah.

Vengeance will feed, rather than break, the cycle of sectarian violence.

Further abuses by militia will only perpetuate the violence that has torn Iraq apart.

Mosul is a key test for the future of Iraq. The Iraqi Government must ensure it protects the civilian population from ISIL and from the militia.

We are approaching a critical juncture that requires all participants to be supportive of our ultimate goal – peace in the region.

That is why Australia – already the third largest contributor of personnel in Iraq after the US and Italy, is now expanding our training effort beyond the Iraqi Army to include the Iraqi Federal and local police forces who are vital for the stabilisation of liberated territory. And why we have increased our humanitarian effort.

Australia is as committed as we ever have been to defeat terrorism at its source and to keep our people safe at home.

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