The head of a parliamentary committee into national security wants Australian war planes to bomb Islamic State jihadists in Syria.
Abbott government MP Dan Tehan said Australia should expand its military presence in the region because the West was “ignoring the suffering of innocent Syrians”.
“The time has come for Australia to join the military coalition seeking to destroy Daesh [IS] in Syria,” Mr Tehan wrote in an opinion piece for News Corp.
“We are acting in Iraq against Daesh, with our Hornets launching air strikes on a regular basis. We should be doing the same in Syria.”
The Abbott government has recently held talks with the US about formally joining the bombing in Syria, News Corp reports.
As the chairman of the federal Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, the Victorian Liberal Part member warned “Northern Syrians face a future at the mercy of Daesh unless the world acts”.
Australia currently has F18 Hornet’s operating against IS insurgents over Iraq but if the proposed plan as implemented that commitment would move across the border into Syria.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott had privately told the US he would support the expansion of Australian Hornet operations into Syria, News Corp reported.
Known as Operation Okra, the $360 million mission currently sees Australian jets fly out of United Arab Emirates to bomb Iraq.
Since their deployment in September 2014, Hornets have dropped 371 bombs and missiles onto IS targets in Iraq.
Around 600 Australian Defence Force troops support the campaign, with a further 300 training and advising Iraqi forces on the ground.
American forces lead the bombing campaign in Syria and say 15,000 terrorists have been killed thanks to the efforts.
Mr Tehan’s proposal did not call for Australian troops to be deployed into front-line roles.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the Labor Party hoped it might see a proposal before any expansion.
“There’s been no formal request for this,” Mr Shorten said. “I value our national security too much to give off the top of our head thought bubbles.
“We will sit down and talk to the government … no formal request has come from the US.
“I look forward to meeting with the government next week.”