Andrews again pushing for ground troops in Syria

Former Defence minister Kevin Andrews. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Former Defence minister Kevin Andrews. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Canberra, AAP – Former defence minister Kevin Andrews is again calling for Australia to do more in trying to combat Islamic State militants in the Middle East.

Responding to news Australia was approached late last year by the US for more military help but declined to increase its contribution, Mr Andrews reiterated his push for ground troops.

‘If the Americans have made a reasonable request of us, then we should be giving it the most favourable consideration,’ he told ABC radio on Thursday.

Despite the request, defence minister Marise Payne remained firm on Australia’s existing level of assistance.

‘Australia has considered the request … in light of the substantial contributions we are already making to train Iraqi security forces and to the air campaign,’ a spokesman told AAP in a statement.

The government had advised US Defense Secretary Ash Carter that Australia’s existing contributions would continue, the statement said.

Mr Andrews said Ms Payne has information before her that he doesn’t anymore.

‘It’s quite clear from the advice I received, and I was aware of what the American military personnel and defence leaders were suggesting, and that was for months they were suggesting that we needed forces on the ground in order to defeat ISIL,’ he said.

The former minister defended his decision to repeatedly speak out about his old portfolio.

‘We have to speak the truth,’ he said.

‘I’m stating my view as a humble backbench member of the parliament that has a responsibility for the country.’

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