A call for war powers reform in Australia
The organisation that is now called Australians for War Powers Reform was formed in 2012 in response to the apparent ease with which Australian troops are sent to war and the serious problems this leads to – for us as a nation, for our troops and for the civilians where we fight our wars. Decisions to send our troops to war are made by the Prime Minister, either acting alone or with a tiny handful of Cabinet members. The process is opaque. There is no opportunity for our elected representatives in Parliament to ask critical questions – for example about:
- the exact purpose of the deployment
- the legality
- the Iikely human costs
- the economic costs
- what would constitute success, and
- alternatives to military action in dealing with the situation.
In 2003 Prime Minister John Howard committed our troops virtually single-handedly to a disastrous decision that defied the will of the Australian people.
The campaign is as relevant as ever now. Australia has been continuously at war since 2001, with parliament playing no role in any of the decisions for troop deployments to the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria. There is no accountability and no process of learning lessons.
Our mission is to ensure that decisions for Australian troops to go to war, barring emergencies, are made only after full debate and vote by Federal Parliament.
Join the Campaign
We need your help to spread the word that Australia can currently be taken to war by the decision of one person, and that needs to change. Please tell your friends and family and get them to support this campaign too. These are the things you can do:
Write to the paper about it
Dr Alison Broinowski joined what’s now AWPR in 2012 and took over from Paul Barratt as President in 2021. She is a former diplomat, academic, and author and lives in Sydney.
Sue Wareham is Secretary of AWPR, and was one of its founding members in 2012. She is also currently President of the Medical Association for Prevention of War, and is on the board of ICAN Australia, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. She believes that everything possible must be done to avoid the horrors – and in some circumstances the existential risk to humanity – that wars bring. A critical step is exposing a leader’s proposal for overseas war to scrutiny in our parliament.
Sue worked for over 30 years in general practice in Canberra.
Peter Hayes is a former RAAF Group Captain who has completed 46 years (1965- 2011) in a wide range of military appointments, including in the Defence Headquarters Joint Military Operations and Planning staff, involved with ADF contingency planning and prosecuting overseas deployments. His final role with the RAAF (Air Command) was Director of Information Warfare which included responsibilities for intelligence and security.
He holds degrees in Economics (Hons), Business and Defence Studies and is a Graduate of the RAAF Staff College, the Australian Defence College and the Industrial Mobilisation Course. He maintains a keen interest in Defence industry policy and has held various roles on the council of the Defence Industry Courses Alumni, including as its President 2018-19.
Since completing his military service, he has been an active member of the ALP (NSW Branch) and was Labor’s endorsed candidate for North Sydney at the 2013 and 2016 federal elections and a NSW Senate nominee for the 2019 election. He combines defence strategic planning and policy experience, an outstanding record of public service, Labor values, and scholarly rigour in his quest for reform of Australia’s war powers.
Rob Baker has been a member the AWPR Committee and Treasurer since 2017. He believes that it is far too easy to go to wars of choice – as distinguished from wars to defend Australia – when the decision is left to the Prime Minister alone or with the support of cabinet only. Australians don’t just elect a government. We elect a Parliament to give voice to the diverse views of the electorate and to hold the government accountable, important features of the democracy that we profess to defend. Rob has had a career working with and supporting children and families. He resides in Canberra.
Cameron Leckie joined the Australian Army at age 17, attending the Australian Defence Force Academy and Royal Military College. Allocated to the Royal Australian Corps of Signals, he retired after 24 years with the rank of Major. Highlights of his career included deploying on three operations (East Timor, the Solomon Islands and Indonesia after the Boxing Day Tsunami) and receiving a commendation as the Executive Officer of the 1st Signal Regiment. Upon retiring from the army, he completed an agricultural engineering degree, for which he was awarded the University Medal. He is currently a PhD student whose research is focusing on soil physics. He maintains a close interest in strategic policy and foreign affairs and has had articles published in the Australian Army Journal, the Australian Defence Force Journal and John Menadue’s public policy journal Pearls and Irritations.
Bruce Haigh is a political commentator and former diplomat. He joined the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 1972. He served in South Africa from 1976/79 with the Australian Embassy. Bruce initiated Australian Embassy contact with members of the black South African resistance, including the Black Consciousness Movement in 1976.
Bruce helped banned newspaper editor, Donald Woods, escape from South Africa. His role in this escape was portrayed in the film, “Cry Freedom” produced by Richard Attenborough. Bruce helped a number of other political activists escape South Africa.
During the 80s Bruce worked in the Australian Embassy in Saudi Arabia, was Director of the Indonesia Section and worked at the Australian Embassy in lslamabad.
Bruce established the Australia-South Africa Training Program (ASATP) in 1990. Seventy black South Africans came to Australia under the program for extended periods of work experience and training including well known South African artist, Bernadette Searle.
He was instrumental in helping to set up the Ifa Lethu Foundation as an institution to locate, repatriate and curate South African works of art taken out of the country during the years of apartheid.
Bruce provides regular political analysis on international and domestic issues for radio and television, conferences and seminars. He writes opinion pieces for a number of newspapers and journals. He stood as an Independent candidate for the federal seat of Gwydir in 2001 and 2004.
Jack Worthy is an International Studies student at RMIT University, Melbourne. Previously an intern for AWPR, Jack has written and researched extensively for the organisation.
An active member of the student body in Melbourne, Jack is committed to bringing awareness of the campaign to a younger demographic.
No longer officially affiliated with the ALP, Jack nonetheless remains engaged in local, and federal politics. Like many Australians, most of the men in Jack’s family have served or are serving in the military, from World War 1 to Timor. This, and the family’s regional roots, informs his passion for reform and the egalitarian politics we are often promised.
Sam Gazal has more than 35 years’ experience as a director of public and private companies. He graduated from Sydney University with a Bachelor of Economics. He has been a director and significant shareholder in a number of successful companies including Winthrop Investments, Country Television Services and Sunshine Broadcasting Network. He joined Australians for War Powers Reform in 2017.