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Issue #1447      17 March 2010

Report on approval to go to war: another missed opportunity

The findings of a Senate report which rejects reasonable calls for parliamentary approval before governments send Australian troops to war is a “wasted opportunity”, says the Australian Greens.

The so-called “War Powers” Bill was a decades-old piece of unfinished business, first introduced by the Australian Democrats in the 1980s and carried forward by the Greens.

“This is a wasted opportunity to strengthen our democracy by insisting that governments consult the people through their elected representatives before taking our soldiers into war zones,” said Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.

“The report’s claims that parliamentary approval would slow the process under emergency situations were refuted by a number of experts who presented submissions and took part in an unofficial hearing staged by the Greens in Parliament House.

“We took the unusual step of organising a forum because the committee refused to hold hearings on this crucial bill - after all there’s no greater decision that government can make than to go to war.”

He said the debacle of Iraq has prompted debates and inquires in many countries, including the UK, leading to a new convention whereby the executive commits to trigger a debate leading to a resolution of the parliament before a deployment is undertaken.

“It seems extraordinary that Australia cannot have a similar mature debate on the issue and instead continues to entrust the executive arm of government alone with these powers.

“We see this as a step along the way to a more mature debate in Australia, and we will be pursuing it in this spirit, in the Parliament and the broader community.”   

Next article – Peak disability body slams Abbott’s proposal

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