Australian PM blasts ex-MP's 'stupid' Iraq trip

Australia's prime minister has said a former MP's trip to Iraq which saw him caught up in fighting was "stupid".

Wyatt Roy, a former assistant minister and Australia's youngest ever MP, lost his seat in the July election.

He travelled to the front line of the conflict between the Islamic State group and Kurdish forces, in defiance of travel warnings, to "see a mate".

Five IS fighters were reported to have been killed last week in the battle, west of Mosul.


IS fire fight

Mr Roy said he was at the frontline "for no more than a minute" when 15 IS fighters fired a series of 50-calibre rounds and RPGs from less than 1km away.

"The danger of a 50-cal bullet, or if they had bigger RPGs, or a mortar round hitting us was pretty serious so we had to stay where we were," he said.

Video footage showed broadcast on SBS showed him crouching down, with audible gunfire in the background.

Mr Roy said once the Kurdish Peshmerga forces had pushed the militants back "they were very adamant that we get in the car and drive as fast as we could in the other direction".

In a statement given to SBS Australia, Peshmerga commander Sime Boseli said he was grateful for Australia's support in the fight against IS.

"Airstrikes have been essential for helping to stop attacks like the one we experienced," he said.

He also said Mr Roy was the first foreign public figure to visit the Sinjar since its liberation from IS and "to spend time with our troops on the frontline".

Australian citizens are banned from travelling to certain areas affected by the IS conflict, but Mr Roy's trip appears to have been outside those areas.

But Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Mr Roy had defied the general warnings about travelling to the region.

"I'm disappointed in Wyatt, he shouldn't have gone to Iraq," he told radio station 3AW.

"He was acting in defiance of government advice. It was very stupid."

He said he would be giving some "very sage and stern advice" to Mr Roy upon his return to Australia, and added: "I want to say, very, very seriously: please don't emulate what Wyatt Roy did."

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop described Mr Roy's actions as "irresponsible".

"The government does not endorse or approve of Mr Roy's actions, and strongly urges other Australians to follow the official advice of 'do not travel to Iraq'," she said in a statement.

"He has placed himself at risk of physical harm and capture."

In an editorial for The Australian newspaper, Mr Roy said his visit to Iraq was useful.

"The advantage of doing an unofficial trip is the low profile - instead of getting whisked around on a whistlestop tour, you can really take the time to get out on the ground.

"So given a unique opportunity to access the liberated town of Sinjar, or Shingal as they call it in Kurdish, I took it, keen to see for myself the realities of Daesh's brutality and the challenges for those remarkable people facing them down."