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Albanese fails to embrace transparency on War Powers

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Most MPs and Senators will continue to have no real say over how Australia goes to war, following the announcement made by Defence Minister Richard Marles yesterday.

Responding to a Parliamentary inquiry into war powers Mr Marles reaffirmed the current ‘captain’s call’ system which leaves these crucial decisions to the Prime Minister and a select group in cabinet.

Dr Alison Broinowski AM, from Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR) says the decision is disappointing and reveals a disturbing anti-democratic mindset in the government.

“By reaffirming the status quo, the government is showing a complete lack of faith in all our elected representatives – MPs and Senators.

If the government wants to send our sons and daughters to another foreign war, it needs to have the Australian public’s support, through their local representatives.

In 2023 one would have thought that discarding the John Howard-style decision making which took us to Iraq would not be controversial, but the Albanese government is sticking with this outdated system.”

The announcement of a new defence oversight committee is welcomed but simply allowing more discussion and consultation does not change the fundamental problem which is a glaring lack of transparency and accountability. That can only be ensured by a vote in both Houses.

“Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan wars was disastrous. If we as a nation want to make better decisions in the future, we must look at alternatives. Sticking with the status quo is a road to nowhere.

The last three national surveys on war powers found that 80 – 90% of Australians think the Parliament should decide on whether we should join overseas conflicts. An overwhelming majority of submissions to the Parliamentary inquiry late last year said the same.

The Albanese government is completely out of step with community sentiment on this issue, as was the previous Coalition government.”

– AWPR Media Statement

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