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Defence Dept opposes Democratic Oversight

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The Department of Defence says MPs and Senators should continue to have no decision-making role on whether Australia joins overseas wars.

In a submission to the current inquiry on the issue the department claims that reforming the existing war powers would be a risk to national security.

“Why is the Department of Defence openly opposing democratic oversight?” asked Dr Alison Broinowski AM, President of Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR)

“Giving our MPs and Senators a vote on the crucial issue of war is not a risk or a threat. It’s democracy.”

The current joint parliamentary inquiry has received 111 submissions and 94 of these support the uncontroversial idea that all MPs and Senators should have a say on overseas deployments.

Only three submissions oppose any reform.

“Defence exists to serve the Australian people and follow the instructions of the elected representatives in the national parliament, “ Dr Broinowski said.

“Is it appropriate for the department to intervene in this matter which should rightfully be considered by the parliament and civil society?”

“The department’s submission repeats the absurd suggestion recently put by Senator Linda Reynolds that war powers reform could risk the lives of ADF personnel. This is despite the fact that several large democratic nations have had parliamentary oversight for years without incident”.

The current “captain’s call” system which gives the PM and the executive alone, the power to decide on war, has failed us time and time again, the Iraq disaster being the most glaring example”.

“In contemporary Australia is it appropriate for the Department of Defence to tell us that making the system more democratic, transparent and accountable is unacceptable?” These are the principles for which a majority of Australians voted in May”.

“Democratic oversight of the armed forces should be viewed as a win for everyone – politicians, the Australian people and the ADF”, she concluded.

– AWPR Media Release

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