7 Oct 2014

Key signals IS decision next month

9:03 pm on 7 October 2014

New Zealanders will know next month whether the country will join the American-led fight against extremist group Islamic State (IS).

Prime Minister John Key announces his third-term Cabinet.

John Key said a decision on joining the fight against IS could be made by next month. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Prime Minister John Key said he was likely to get advice this week about what military support this country could offer.

The Government was likely to make its own decision about whether to support the campaign against IS, rather than wait for a call for assistance, he said.

There was a range of help which could be provided, and sending troops was at the outer edge of what Mr Key would want to do.

However, he said he found what IS was doing in Iraq and Syria abhorrent.

"These are people that are lining up innocent journalists and foreign aid workers and beheading them," he said.

"I think a lot of New Zealanders - certainly I know I'm aghast at that. It's barbaric and there is a point at which people do actually have to take steps to stop that."

It was likely a decision would be made by the time Mr Key went to the G20 meeting in Brisbane in mid-November, and Parliament would get to debate it, he said.

Labour Party acting leader David Parker said it was the right of the Government to make the decision to go but the Parliament would want to see well-reasoned justifications.

"New Zealanders will want to see that this is going to, or is likely to, lead to a more positive outcome long-term in the region rather than get us drawn into a long-term conflict that might leave things in an even worse state than they are currently," he said.

Meanwhile, an Australian security expert expects New Zealand will be asked to take part in the fight against IS.

The Australian air force has already sent six fighter jets to support air strikes by the US-led coalition and Greg Barton from Melbourne's Monash University said the United States will want to broaden international support for the air strikes saying New Zealand's involvement would be regarded as politically valuable.

Professor Barton said the strikes could continue for several years.

Federation of Islamic Associations questions travel plan

The Federation of Islamic Associations says there is no guarantee restricting travel for New Zealand passport-holders to countries such as Iraq and Syria will yield positive results.

Yesterday Mr Key said New Zealand would "potentially" consider a law change to make it harder for people on New Zealand passports to return from countries such as Iraq and Syria if they have been fighting for militant groups such as IS.

But Federation president Anwar Ghani said similar laws imposed in other countries have not necessarily produced positive results and the intelligence gathered needs to be accurate to avoid infringing on people's right to travel.