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. She was President of AWPR from 2021-23. 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. 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.
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.
AWPR President Andrew Bartlett was a Senator for Queensland & Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Democrats. As well as specialising in refugee, immigration, environment and housing issues, he introduced legislation seeking to require Parliamentary approval for sending Australian troops to war. He has also worked in social work, high school teaching, advocacy and an academic in migration policy.
Donna Mulhearn is an activist, writer, and speaker. She was a human shield during the 2003 Iraq War and returned several times as an aid worker, human rights observer and researcher focusing on the impact of toxic weapons on the Iraqi community.
Peter Murphy is a journalist, researcher and anti-war campaigner. He is the Secretary of the Sydney Peace & Justice Coalition and Chairperson of the Global Council of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines.
Kellie Tranter is a lawyer, researcher and human rights activis who previously stood as an independent political candidate. She has participated in public debates on issues like climate change, human rights, gender equality and opposing unjustified wars and economic exploitation.
Jenni has had over 30 years experience in the communication field predominately in the NFP sector. With a specialisation in digital marketing Jenni helped AWPR expand the reach and engagement of their digital communication channels during her time as Communication and Outreach Manager. With a passion for the mission of AWPR, Jenni is keen once again to help give the issue the prominence it deserves.
Bronwyn was a senior executive in NSW state and local government for 30 years until 2014 and an Honorary Professional Fellow at the University of Technology Sydney in the Institute for Public Policy and Governance from 2014 to 2021.
Bronwyn’s PhD thesis was The Textual Mandate: the authorisation of the logic of deterrence in Western philosophy since Descartes, an exploration of humanity’s fear of death and extinction in the nuclear age. (Sydney University, 1985).
Dr Niraj (Nij) Lal is a Visiting Fellow at the ANU, Principal at AEMO, and a presenter with the ABC.
He graduated with a PhD in physics from the University of Cambridge as a Gates Scholar in 2012, was a Renewable Energy lecturer at the ANU from 2012-2015, and received the 2021 Celestino Eureka Award for Promoting Understanding of Science in 2021.
He hosts the ABC Kids podcast Imagine This, was a former National Council Member of the Australian WikiLeaks Party, and his piece Rubberhose cryptography and the idea behind WikiLeaks – Julian Assange as a physics student contributed to him winning the 2022 Royal Societies of Australia and New Zealand Piasecki Prize for Outstanding Writing on Social Change.
More info at nirajlal.org