Australia will join the effort to keep the Strait of Hormuz open for shipping, with a pledge to send a warship, surveillance aircraft and defence personnel to the Persian Gulf.
- The United States is leading military efforts to protect shipping routes in the Persian Gulf
- Australia has spent weeks deciding if it would join an international coalition in the Strait of Hormuz
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was in Australia’s interest to ensure oil tankers could move freely
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said disruption to shipping in the region was a threat to Australia’s national interests.
“Fifteen to 16 per cent of crude oil and 25 to 30 per cent of refined oil destined for Australia transits through the Strait of Hormuz,” he said.
“So it is a potential threat to our economy.”
Australia has been considering joining the United States-led military effort for weeks.
Tension in the region increased when Iran seized a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf, prompting UK retaliation, seizing an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar.
Mr Morrison made the announcement at Parliament House alongside Defence Minister Linda Reynolds and Defence Chief Angus Campbell.
Mr Morrison and Senator Reynolds repeatedly argued Australia’s role would be limited to just protecting shipping lanes.
“Australia’s core interest in this mission is de-escalation. It is all about de-escalating rising tensions in the Gulf,” Senator Reynolds said.
The Prime Minister denied Australia was being tied to another US-led military effort in the Middle East.
“The United States is pulling this together, but it’s also the UK’s view that this provides the opportunity for others to be involved in a multi-national engagement,” he said.
Mr Morrison spoke with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo early on Wednesday to inform them of Australia’s involvement.
There will be about 200 Australians involved in the deployment, with 177 Defence personnel on the warship and 10 on the surveillance aircraft.
Mr Morrison said it was yet to be determined how many Australians would be sent to the Middle East headquarters of the military effort.
He heads to Vietnam tomorrow before travelling to France to attend a G7 meeting, where he said he would discuss Australia’s involvement with world leaders.
“The international environment is very difficult. The global economy is facing rising headwinds, as I’ve noted before – rising geopolitical tensions and protectionism is weighing heavily on global confidence and growth,” Mr Morrison said.
“We will work with our partners. We will play our part in shaping a better future for Australia, and Australians, as well as in the region and across the world.”