Albanese Government announces War Powers Inquiry

AWPR booklet cover page. Click to enlarge.

The Labor Party has kept its pre-election promise and announced a parliamentary inquiry into war powers in Australia on Friday, September 30, 2022.

The 2021 ALP national conference pledged to refer the issue to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade.

That commitment has now been implemented and the Committee will be accepting submissions until Friday, 18 November 2022. Submissions can be lodged via the Committee’s webpage.

Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR), who have campaigned long and hard on the issue, warmly welcomed the news that the Albanese government will hold a parliamentary inquiry into how Australia makes decisions to send service personnel to international conflicts.

Following the announcement, Dr Alison Broinowski AM, President of AWPR said:

We believe the current system whereby the Prime Minister and the executive can make this crucial decision without reference to Parliament is outdated and needs urgent reform.

At present the Prime Minister can make the decision, often without even consulting his or her own cabinet. This means the most serious decision of all can be a “captain’s call”, left up to just one person. Surely in 2022, with threats of war mounting, that is no longer acceptable.

This inquiry is a significant step forward for the campaign and opens up the possibility of legislative reform that may enable the whole Parliament to debate and vote on overseas deployments.

This year’s Federal election clearly showed that the community wants greater transparency and accountability in decision making, as well as measures to deal effectively with global warming. As MPG has previously argued, both are connected with military operations.

The cause of peace will be served by upholding the authority of elected Parliament over the exercise of executive power and decision making, particularly in relation to the way Australia joins overseas wars.

More information

AWPR’s Media Release on the Government’s announcement.

Government’s Media Release and the parliamentary inquiry’s Terms of Reference.

Alison Broinowski, War Powers Reform: those in favour say aye … or maybe “no comment”, Michael West Media, Oct 2, 2022.

AWPR’s booklet How Does Australia Go To War: A Call for Accountability and Change, Jun 2015.

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