Should one man decide on war? Labor declares inquiry into War Powers reform

by Michael West | Oct 1, 2022 | Government, Latest Posts

One man makes the decision to send Australian troops off to war; no matter how futile, how distant, or how relevant the war. That man is now Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Earlier this year it was Scott Morrison. In the US and the UK, it is Congress and Parliament respectively which make this fateful decision.

Labor has come good on its commitment to hold a parliamentary inquiry into War Powers reform. It is an issue which Michael West Media has been covering constantly for a year now, calling all the politicians in federal parliament for their views.

The inquiry was referred by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, Richard Marles MP this week to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (JSCFADT). Here are the Terms of Reference. 

The JSCFADT has tasked the Defence Subcommittee to undertake this inquiry. Its members: Julian Hill (Chair), Andrew Wallace (Deputy Chair), Senator Ralph Babet, Colin Boyce, Senator Raff Ciccone, David Fawcett (ex-officio); Steve Georganas, Luke Gosling, Senator Nita Green, Peter Khalil, Rob Mitchell, Senator Jim Molan, Shayne Neumann (ex-officio), Senator Deborah O’Neill, Senator Fatima Payman, Gavin Pearce, Graham Perrett, Senator Linda Reynolds, Susan Templeman, Kate Thwaites, Senator David Van, Maria Vamvakinou, Josh Wilson.

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JSCFADT Chair, Shayne Neumann MP, said “One of the most significant powers vested in the executive government is the decision to deploy Australian servicemen and women into armed conflict where they are at risk of serious injury and death. 

“This review of course does not alter the fact that Labor’s defence policy is founded on the principle of Australian self-reliance and the Government and Australia’s armed forces need to be able to defend Australia and its interests against credible threats in a dynamically changing geo-strategic environment unimpeded by dissenting or short term political opinions”.

Commenting on the inquiry, Defence Subcommittee Chair, Mr Julian Hill MP, noted that “The Government has committed to holding this inquiry which presents an opportunity for the public and stakeholders to present evidence to the Committee on where improvements can be made including transparency and accountability in the exercise of these powers. 

“The Subcommittee will examine whether the current parliamentary processes are sufficient and importantly, if there are inadvertent security implications any proposed policy changes may cause that could compromise the safety and security of our Defence Force personnel.

“During the inquiry it will be important to hear evidence about how other like-minded democracies and Westminster parliamentary systems around the world commit their citizens to conflict.”

The Committee invites submissions addressing the terms of reference to this inquiry by Friday, 18 November 2022.

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Michael West established Michael West Media in 2016 to focus on journalism of high public interest, particularly the rising power of corporations over democracy. West was formerly a journalist and editor with Fairfax newspapers, a columnist for News Corp and even, once, a stockbroker.

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