Here is the full text of Tony Abbott’s announcement on sending Australian jet fighters to Iraq:
The Government will commit up to eight Australian F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft to participate in airstrikes in Iraq as part of the international coalition formed to disrupt and degrade ISIL.
Once the appropriate legal arrangements are in place with the Iraqi government, Australian Special Forces will also deploy to Iraq to advise and assist Iraqi security forces.
These forces will join the RAAF E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft and KC-30A multi-role tanker transport already supporting coalition air operations over Iraq.
This is not a decision the Government has taken lightly. Ultimately it is Iraq that must defeat ISIL, but it cannot do it alone.
This decision reflects the Government’s assessment – shared by a growing coalition of Middle Eastern and Western partners – that ISIL represents a significant threat not only to the people of Iraq but to the wider region and to our domestic security.
At the United Nations in New York last week, Iraq’s new Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi welcomed Australia’s commitment to support Iraq in defeating ISIL.
Australia will be acting as part of a large coalition of countries supporting Iraq in the fight against ISIL and contributing to the humanitarian relief effort.
Importantly, a number of Iraq’s Arab neighbours are participating in operations against ISIL alongside the United States and other countries including the United Kingdom and France. More have declared their intention to join air combat operations against the terrorist group.
Australia is reluctant to reach out to conflicts thousands of miles away, but this conflict has reached out to us.
At least 60 Australians are now fighting with terrorist groups in the Middle East and at least 100 Australians are supporting them at home.
I have enormous respect for Australian servicemen and women and their safety is the Government’s utmost concern.
They will complete their mission with professionalism and courage.
Our thoughts are with their families, who will have the support of the entire Australian community.
The Australian Government will do whatever is possible at home and abroad to keep the Australian people safe.
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