MPG is currently circulating a petition which calls for the enactment of a War Powers Bill which transfers decision-making about the deployment of Australian troops overseas from the executive branch (the Prime Minister and Cabinet) to the parliament.
Sign the online War Powers Petition here.
The case for signing the War Power Petition:
Requesting parliamentary debate before sending Australian troops overseas.
“The responsibility of sending Australian men and women into danger and quite possibly to their deaths should not be solely on the shoulders of a handful of leaders, but more broadly shared by the policy makers and the public who they represent”. (Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, February 2008).
In Australia there have been numerous attempts to introduce legislation to bring more transparency and accountability into the decision making process before committing troops to overseas wars.
- In 1985 Australian Democrats Senator, Colin Mason, introduced a Defence Amendment (Parliamentary Approval of Overseas Service) Bill.
- In 2003 at the time of the Iraq war, Senator Andrew Bartlett, (also Australian Democrats) introduced a similar bill.
- In 2008 Greens Senator Scott Ludlam reintroduced it as a private members bill.
- In 2010 Greens MP Adam Bandt introduced Defence Amendment to the House of Representatives (Parliamentary Approval of Overseas Service) Bill.
The major parties have consistently obstructed the passage of legislation that would ensure parliamentary debate before military deployment overseas.
The need for this legislation is demonstrated by the Australian participation in the Iraq war. The decision to join the invasion was made in haste by the PM and the National Security Committee. Such a decision should require at least a full parliamentary debate.
Australia needs War Powers legislation enacted to bring it into line with other democracies like Denmark, Finland, Germany, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey, where troop deployment is set down in constitutional or legislative provisions. In other countries, such as Austria, the Netherlands and Norway, some form of parliamentary approval is a requirement.
Decisions of such magnitude must not be made on our behalf by a few individuals behind closed doors.
Download a copy of the War Powers Petition here and help us collect signatures.