Minister for Defence – Doorstop – Counter-Daesh Coalition Defence Ministers Meeting, Hotel De Brienne, Paris

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Subjects: Counter-Daesh campaign, Liberal pre-selections.
E&OE

JOURNALIST

Minister Payne, what has been achieved during the counter-Daesh meeting today?

MINISTER PAYNE

Well it’s been a very important meeting of seven key contributors to the counter-Daesh campaign in Iraq and Syria, co-convened by the French Defense Minister and the US Secretary of Defense. We have had myself plus the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany here today for these discussions. We have been very considered in our deliberations on our military strategy that is underway both in Iraq and Syria in making sure that we work to coordinate and collaborate on that strategy. It will in fact grow into a large meeting around the NATO Defence Ministers Meeting in February in Brussels as well.

JOURNALIST

When Prime Minister Turnbull was in Iraq troops asked when the Defence White Paper will be released. When will it?

MINISTER PAYNE

Well I’m very glad that they are interested in the Defence White Paper and I have indicated the release will be in the first quarter of this year, so not very far away.

JOURNALIST

Has Australia been too slow in combating the social media campaign being waged by IS?

MINISTER PAYNE

I think this is an international question, not just a question for Australia, and very much has been part of our discussion today that this is a multi-faceted activity. It’s more than just a military campaign. It requires engagement in the modern battle platform, if you like, and that includes social media. The Prime Minister I know raised it with Secretary Carter and I’m sure with President Obama on his recent visit. We pursued it further today. The United Kingdom is taking a particular lead in that in terms of the Coalition partners and we are very pleased to engage on that and to support them. As you would know that is something the Prime Minister has a particular abiding interest in.

JOURNALIST

Are tensions over the pre-selections in NSW threatening to destabilise the party? Will you call fellow moderates to drop challenges against sitting members?

MINISTER PAYNE

Well I think the robustness of Australian politics would not be lost here in Paris. We all belong to very vibrant democracies. The Liberal Party as a political organisation is not immune to that and in fact I think I have probably experienced one or two of those myself in my political career. So as I said, more of those underway in Australia at the moment. I know that the most important thing we are focused on is making sure we win the election in 2016, that we return as many of our seats in NSW in 2016 as we already have, and in fact return the Liberal Party as a government.

JOURNALIST

Do you support all sitting members in their pre-selections? What about Bronwyn Bishop? Should she go out?

MINISTER PAYNE

I support all of my colleagues.

JOURNALIST

Anything else you would like to add about the Coalition and the achievement today, something that we didn’t cover?

MINISTER PAYNE

I would like to say that this is a seminal meeting. This is the first group meeting of a number of Defence Ministers who are representing the countries who are part of the Coalition. As I said, that will be expanded in Brussels around the NATO Defence Ministers Meeting in early February. This is an important initiative that assures the world and assures our own nations that the military strategy which we are pursuing to eradicate, to destroy, and to remove Daesh from its activity in Iraq and Syria is front of mind for all of us. We know as well as the military strategy there are a number of other things to build into that. We have talked about social media. We know that as we make gains in places such as Ramadi we must ensure that stabilisation continues after those gains and that we support local communities in re-establishing themselves and engaging in their own country. We also are very keen to grow the numbers participating in the Coalition. There are many things to be done. It needs many shoulders to the wheel and all of us who were here today will be reinforcing that with our colleagues more broadly.

JOURNALIST

Finally, any message you would like to address to the men and women in uniform of the ADF who are now on the battlefield?

MINISTER PAYNE

Most certainly. They are the face of the Australian engagement in these activities which are so very important to our nation and internationally. The job that they do is second to none. I’m extraordinarily proud of them as I know our Prime Minister is and he reinforced that on his visit to Iraq and Afghanistan. In everything they do I wish them great safety and great effectiveness as they carry out their extremely important tasks.

ENDS

 

Media contacts:

Henry Budd (Senator Payne’s office) 0429 531 143

Defence Media (02) 6127 1999


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