FEDERAL Labor will wait for formal government briefings before responding to a US call for more Australian troops to help train the Iraq military.

President Barack Obama wants countries like Australia to supplement their commitment, telling Prime Minister Tony Abbott in Beijing the fight against Islamic State is moving into a new phase. Australia has committed 200 special forces personnel for training while RAAF planes have participated in air strikes against IS targets in Iraq.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says he has yet to receive a formal briefing from the government following talks between President Obama and Mr Abbott on the sidelines of the APEC summit. “The government has been very good at keeping Labor informed about what is going on and consulting Labor about its decisions for further engagement,” he told reporters in Canberra.

Mr Abbott said Australia’s priority was getting its special forces into the field on their advise-and-assist mission.
Former prime minister John Howard, who gave the commemorative address at the National Remembrance Day Service in Canberra, was reluctant to comment on whether Australia should ramp-up efforts to fight extremists.

It was a matter for the Abbott government and he didn’t want to give them advice.

“They are handling the security challenge and the terrorist challenge with great skill and there is a bipartisan commitment to fighting this evil and that is a good thing,” he told reporters. Mr Howard said the latest the mission was sparked by the sense of horror and outrage by those who sought to justify murder and destruction in the name of religion.
He paid tribute to the extraordinary heroism and the great professional valour of Australia’s servicemen and women.

“Let us remember they stand on the shoulders of their Anzac forebears,” he told veterans, dignitaries, diplomats and spectators outside the Australian War Memorial.


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