Tony Abbott has denied claims he sought advice on sending troops to Iraq, saying the suggestion is “absolutely fanciful” and “absolutely false”.
The Prime Minister said the government had no plans to put Australian troops on the ground in Iraq.
Responding to questions about the claims, made in The Australian today, Abbott said he had spoken to the Chief of Defence who was as “mystified” about the allegations as he was.
“I thought it was absolutely fanciful. I rang the chief defence minister… and it was as much of a mystery to him as it is to me,” Abbott said.
“The story is false. It is false. It is fanciful, absolutely fanciful.”
Abbott continued by saying The Australian made “no attempt” to contact the DCF and his own office to clarify the details.
“Australia does not act unilaterally in the Middle East,” he said.
“[We are] operating with full support of the Iraqi government…. and we will continue to stand with Iraq to fight this death cult.”
He said he would never consider sending troops without the consent of the Iraqi government and without cooperation of allies.
When asked if he thought the claims had been “made up”, he replied: “Absolutely”.
The Australian reported that Abbott discussed sending 3500 troops to Iraq to fight Islamic State during a meeting in Canberra last November, and put the idea to leading military planners for advice.
Senior Ministers have also come forward today denying Abbott sought advice on sending troops into Iraq, as well as claims that his chief of staff, Peta Credlin, chaired meetings of the expenditure review committee.
Finance Minister Matthias Cormann told ABC radio that the report was untrue.
“That story is wrong. The prime minister never sought such advice,” Cormann said.
“My advice is that the journalist who wrote that story actually never put that proposition to the prime minister’s office when seeking comment.”
Treasurer Joe Hockey has also backed the Prime Minister.
— Joe Hockey (@JoeHockey) February 20, 2015
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