Media Release: April 25, 2021
The former Defence Force Chief Admiral Chris Barrie has publicly supported calls to change the way Australia goes to war, saying parliament should have the key decision making role.
Speaking on ABC Radio Admiral Barrie said when it comes to overseas deployments the power should be taken away from the prime minister and the executive and given to the Parliament.
“We applaud Admiral Barrie for publicly questioning the status quo which places far too much power in too few hands,” said Dr Alison Broinowski AM, Vice-President of Australians for War Powers Reform.
“Admiral Barrie is a very senior and respected member of the defence community and his opinion carries significant weight.”
In his interview on Radio National in the lead up to ANZAC Day, Admiral Barrie pointed out that when Australian forces were sent to both Iraq and Afghanistan the prime minister made that decision, with parliament having no say.
His comments follow the recent decision by the ALP to hold a public inquiry into war powers if elected to government next year.“
An overwhelming number of Australians – 83% – want Parliament to decide whether our troops are sent into armed conflict abroad,” said Dr Broinowski.
“It’s time Australia stopped joining overseas wars – sometimes disastrous wars – with no input whatsoever from the Australian public and their parliamentary representatives.
“We hope Admiral Barrie’s comments spark a wider debate among policy makers and the general community about the need for a transparent and democratic process before we commit to another war,” she added.
Admiral Chris Barrie on RN Breakfast:“The only other issue I think that needs to be on this table is about who makes the decision to commit to these conflicts. In Iraq and Afghanistan it was made by the Prime Minister. There is a movement in Australia to say only the parliament really has the authority to commit to those kinds of operations. We’re not talking about the defence of Australia or an attack on Australia. What we are talking about here is the long range deployment of Australian troops into a conflict which is a long long way from our near zone. And I think the movement to take the power away from the prime minister and the executive and give it to the parliament is worth support too.”