Former prime minister Kevin Rudd says the international community should consider arming Syrian rebels in a bid to end its bloody civil war.
But the Gillard Government flatly rejected the idea that Australia might help supply the weapons and said it was only willing to provide medical aid to the war's victims.
Mr Rudd's comments come before the British defence and foreign secretaries meet Defence Minister Stephen Smith and Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr in Perth this week for talks on Syria, Iran and regional security.
Mr Rudd, who has previously called for stronger action against the Syrian regime, said the world should "deploy all available options" to save lives.
"If that means relevant states with the capacity to provide arms to the Syrian national coalition to protect themselves, then so be it," Mr Rudd said.
Last week, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said he would lobby the European Union to lift an arms embargo on Syria, which could open the way for Britain to provide weapons to Syrian rebels.
"Syria is well past the point of being a humanitarian crisis, it is on the road to becoming a crime against humanity," Mr Rudd said.
Mr Rudd said the world intervened in Libya in 2011 when only 2000 people had been killed, yet the United Nations believed more than 60,000 had died so far in Syria.
Mr Hague and Defence Secretary Philip Hammond will be in Perth for the important so-called AUKMIN talks on Friday.
The talks, held annually in Britain or Australia, are likely to prompt a security crackdown in Perth, though more discreet than when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited late last year.
A spokesman for Senator Carr confirmed Syria would be on the agenda but said Australia was not considering military aid to rebels.
"Our immediate priority is our medical plan, to secure safe hospital access and safe passage for medical workers inside Syria," he said.
Perth has become a hub for major foreign policy events. In 2011, world leaders visited for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and Mrs Clinton and former US defence secretary Leon Panetta were in Perth in November.
The AUKMIN meetings are expected to take place at the State Reception Centre in Kings Park.'Syria is well past the point of being a humanitarian crisis.' " Former prime minister *Kevin Rudd *
'The West Australian' is a trademark of West Australian Newspapers Limited 2013.
All rights reserved.
Select your state to see news for your area.