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Messages to Paul

We have received many messages for Paul Barratt wishing him well. These are just a few of the collection. We are very happy for other well-wishers to add your comments below (in the comments section at the end of the page)

AWPR Committee

All of us in Australians for War Powers Reform, and its predecessor, the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry, know how central Paul’s role has been in both movements. It is largely his impetus that has advanced their aims to reach where we are today, with Be Sure On War. 

Everyone, whether involved at the outset in 2012, or joining more recently, owes their understanding of why Australia needs to change the war powers to Paul. His ideas about what that change should look like are shared by all of us. We have all learned from Paul’s long experience in government and outside how to achieve this critically necessary reform. We have all memorised Paul’s four points, which he often used to respond to those who doubt the need for change. Paul knew how urgent it is becoming to achieve reform before we enter another catastrophic war. But he always worked patiently and with good humour, trusting our democratic system and the common sense of most Australians. 

We each have much to thank Paul for as an outstanding Australian. I mention in particular his generosity, humanity, intelligence, and high principles. I will keep these in mind in trying to emulate his example. 

Dr Alison Broinowski, Acting AWPR President

I didn’t know Paul during my ten year stint in the Commonwealth Public Service. Our times there did not exactly coincide. But well before I actually  met Paul I had taken notice of his contretemps as head of the Department of Defence with his Minister that had a regrettable outcome for public policy.  At an earlier time I had witnessed (in writing) differences at such a high level being resolved between intelligent individuals to their mutual advantage. This was between the then head of Defence, Sir Arthur Tange (to whom I was an  Executive Assistant) and his Minister, Malcolm Fraser, on the respective statutory responsibilities of a department head and the Minister. Having got to know Paul later it was easy to conclude in his contretemps where the real intelligence lay. 

What marked Paul was his analytical mind, his precision with and command of facts, and an intelligent perspective not only on the facts but on their political bearing. He brought these skills to his leadership role with AWPR, a cause informed by his deep insight into the causes of war and oftentimes the follies associated with both their committal and prosecution. We talk much of the sacrifices of war, being obliged to acknowledge they weren’t in vain. But too often they were in vain and would have been avoidable with skilful statecraft. Paul committed to AWPR as a step towards ensuring that Australian lives would not be put at risk in future through folly on the part of politicians acting without the clear authority of parliament backed by a clear expression of affirmative public opinion.

Moreover is a belief that the time has come when Australian foreign and defence policy should be based on a sound appreciation of Australian national interests and not more as a favour to a power with its assumed guarantee of ultimate protection – a notion whose assumptions are more make believe than real. Knowing the difference between the two is the statecraft that has been missing from national policy making in recent decades which Paul has made a massive contribution in his life and work to redressing.  

Andrew Farran, AWPR Committee member

I first encountered your profound sense of duty in the period of your appointment as Defence Secretary – from February 1998 to August 1999. As a senior RAAF Group Captain at the time, I was able to observe during a particularly turbulent and troublesome time, your brilliant collaboration with the then CDF (Admiral Chris Barrie) and smooth transfer of diarchic power from your predecessor Tony Ayres. I was appalled by the then Minister’s apparent disregard of your fearless professional advice and shameful treatment of you in the role. Your dignity and profound sense of loyalty and duty to the Australian nation endure in the public record.

Your outstanding wisdom and leadership have been brought to bear over many decades of public service. Brought to bear on a wide range of momentous national issues and not just in national security. Your success in establishing the AWPR movement and the momentum you have brought to the organisation is invaluable. And that vital work you began, must and will continue until its goal is attained.  

Peter Hayes, AWPR Committee member

I came to Australians for War Powers Reform five years ago, drawn by reading Henry Reynolds, Malcolm Fraser, Andrew Bacevich, a pamphlet and the AWPR website. I discovered a cohesive organisation of very committed, talented and articulate people led and inspired by you. 

Your energy, vision, humanity, positivity and deep knowledge have been inspiring. I’ve learned so much from all under your leadership. You’re missed at our fortnightly meetings. You have a light touch for a very serious campaign. It’s been a pleasure and an honour to work with you.  Your spirit is still with us.

Best wishes for the future. 

Rob BakerAWPR Treasurer

Like many people, Paul Barratt was galvanised in around 2002 to speak out vehemently and vigorously against the planned invasion of Iraq and the role of our PM John Howard in making sure Australia was there. However, unlike many with the eminent credentials that Paul had achieved, he was willing to work with anyone from activist level to the highest levels of decision-making. This is the way Paul operates, with humility and humanity – treating everyone with respect and looking at all contributions and opinions on their merits, rather than on who utters them. (But for opinions that seriously deserve no respect, Paul’s tweets are a wonderful antidote!) 

In 2012, the Medical Association for Prevention of War asked Paul to write a short paper on the authority to go to war, with Iraq as a stark and disastrous example of the need for change. From such small beginnings grew the organisation now known as Australians for War Powers Reform and its campaign Be Sure on War, which Paul has led. 

It’s been an enormous privilege and pleasure working with you Paul. Thank you for that opportunity and for making a difference on this little planet of ours. Your illness devastates us all, but we’ll redouble our efforts in your honour. War powers reform will be achieved, with your name all over it. 

Dr Sue Wareham, AWPR Secretary

I was so fortunate to work with you at AWPR under your guidance.Your legacy to the country via your work have been immense but it is the gentle man with the sharp intellect and dry wit that I will miss the most.  Your genuine warmth and ability to connect with people regardless of status or level is what I will remember. I am so sorry that you are unwell but so so glad I had the privilege of working with you. I will miss you. Thank you Paul. 

Jenni Beattie, AWPR Committee member

I want to thank you for all of your perseverance and dedication in this important area of work. Having done so much to raise this issue in the public sphere, your drive and determination is an inspiration to everyone at AWPR and beyond.  More so, I want to thank you for being a great leader with an unrivaled kindness, warmth, and humour that has touched us all.  We miss you, legend! 

Renae Titchmarsh, AWPR Committee member

It is evident Paul has brought not just a commitment to democracy and transparency, but an incisive wit and a wealth of experience. To hear his wry recollections on MP response times in better days past, is to marvel at his sustained patience and dedication to helping form a better, fairer, more humane Australia.  I have been fortunate enough to take inspiration from Paul’s example, and to learn from his experience, as I am certain many others have done so over the years. This speaks to his generosity of spirit, his rectitude, and his devotion to helping foster inquiring minds dedicated to the betterment of our society. 

As Paul steps down from the AWPR presidency, I hope he does so in the comforting knowledge that his leadership has contributed enormously to the betterment of our country and to those who continue to strive for change. All the best Paul. 

Jack Worthy, AWPR Committee member


Wider Community

For a new Senator coming to grips with the long history of attempts to democratise War Powers, there was no-one better than Paul Barratt. Combining political smarts with deep domain knowledge, Paul brought something else as well: wisdom, and humour, and patience. I loved working with Paul on War Powers reform, the campaign for an Iraq war inquiry and other practical propositions for making our world a safer and kinder place. 

Scott Ludlam – former Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens.

Paul is a humble and profound individual. A community leader, visionary and social change agent. Paul’s vast experience in public policy and service combined with an intellectual, value-based and principled approach is a legacy and model for others to follow. He hands over a heavy baton filled with rich inspiring strengths and qualities. Paul provided me with a platform and framework to channel making sense of personal loss from war. I am deeply grateful for his quiet confidence and support. Reflecting on Paul comes with the greatest of ease, indicative of someone who embodies compassionate authenticity and transparency.

Kellie Merritt, AWPR member, war widow and anti-war activist 

I have fond memories of working with the War Powers Reform team, led so well by Paul.  Paul is the most egalitarian and respectful team leader I have worked with. His down-to-earth manner, good humour and wit created a strong team atmosphere. It was a pleasure to be part of the team.Paul is a true leader – a man of great humility and integrity – working for the good of the country. It is wonderful to have had the opportunity to work with him and to learn so much. Thank you Paul. 

Michelle Fahy – Ex AWPR Committee member and journalist 

 I am so sorry to hear that you are unwell. I knew you only briefly when I was a committee member of AWPR, but during that time I came to admire you immensely for the breadth of your knowledge and experience, the clarity of your logic and the persuasiveness of your arguments. The discussions we had on occasions over lunch or coffee were always enlightening and for me most enjoyable.  I have followed you on Twitter and found the same succinctness of thought. I have missed your contribution of late.  Best wishes and warmest regards.

Margaret Swieringa, former Committee Secretary in the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade and the Intelligence and Security Committee

His work on the AWPR campaign has been phenomenal and inspiring to me. I have a great deal of admiration for him, especially for the way he has dedicated the last 20 years or so (much of his retirement) to the cause of curtailing Australia’s involvement in war and militarism and promoting good government policy, especially responsible and independent foreign policy – all while he could have been playing golf!

He held a big vision for how Australia could do better on the international stage, and I have no doubt his vision will one day come to pass with the reform of War Powers to be democratic and accountable. He used his intellect and extensive experience in a most productive and effective way. As well as a fine public servant and elder statesman, he is a compassionate and generous humanitarian with a powerful legacy. 

Donna Mulhearn, writer, speaker and activist

Paul played a crucial role in the foundation of Australia21 and was a founding director.
He became Chair of the Board in 2011. He has been intimately involved in all of the activities of the organisation from its inception in 2001 and played a key and often central role in many of the roundtables.

In recent years Paul instigated  an initiative on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) especially amongst First Responder Professionals on which Australia21 worked closely with  Fearless am organisation headed by Chris Barrie a lontime colleague and associate of Paul’s   This has been a vitally important development that has been  greatly valued by police and ambulance workers across the nation.

Paul’s long years in senior levels of The Public Service, both in Defence, and Environmental issues  made his contributions  to all of the activities of A21 constructive and relevant.  

Bob Douglas AO, Director of Australia21

Paul Barratt AO is a man of integrity, a man unafraid to speak truth to power.  These things are not as common as we hope or imagine in our society. I felt so lucky to have worked with Paul through the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry which transitioned to the Australian for War Powers reform in the time I was working with them.  Paul brought together so many engaged, thoughtful experts, people with a vision for better accountability of how our country goes to war, raising expectations that this is a process that should be under the examination of the entire parliament, not simply the whim of leaders. Paul has been a true public servant. Not afraid to challenge the policy makers, the highest offices and the assumptions of the status quo, Paul is also a kind and thoughtful man who shows deep respect, who listens to all and who maintains a strength of purpose, regardless of the on-going disappointments that are offered through a flawed and increasingly disappointing political environment.  Paul, I wish you such strength and most of all great peace at this time, and thank you sincerely for your kindness, your generosity and your vision.

Dimity Hawkins AM, activist and researcher  

Could you please pass on my best wishes to Paul and thank him for being one of our national treasures! He’s been a beacon of strength in public and political debate – his thoughts and opinions so worthy of respect. Paul’s relentless, principled and humanitarian approach to policy-making and his selfless drive to install truth-to-power across government has encouraged so many of us to embrace similar goals and qualities. Such a kind and wonderfully entertaining individual – an absolute gem in our community. All that aside, his witty, insightful tweets have been terribly missed!

Christine Johnson, AWPR Supporter 

Paul, I have long admired your service to Australia. You were shortchanged as Secretary of Defence where many of us held real hope that your skills and knowledge as a Public Servant of integrity and vast experience would make a real difference. While I absolutely share your views on the need for War Powers Reform I chose a different way of expressing them. This did not stop me admiring your energy and persuasive powers in advocating for reform and an inquiry into Australia’s role in Iraq. Your ability to assemble and gain the support of so many prominent Australians attests to your vision for the future of Australia and your influence over the way we as Australians shape our future and pursue our sovereign national interests. With my best wishes.

Peter Leahy AC, Lieutenant General Australian Army

I have the highest regard for Paul Barratt and have admired his professionalism and focus in various public service appointments, particularly Primary Industry and Defence, at the BCA and most recently through Australia 21, the Commission for the Human Future, and his Twitter comments. Paul could always be relied upon for wise, stable, and thoughtful council. We shared a concern for the shift away from evidence-based public policy. He spoke fondly of an experience with Doug Anthony. Paul was called in for policy advice on a difficult issue. Anthony said to him (words to the effect), “Your job is to get the policy right, then mine is to work out how best to explain it and sell it.” Those days are long gone, and the wisdom and experience of a PB will be sorely missed

John Hewson AM, former Leader of the Liberal Party

From Twitter – a range of messages can be seen here 


Thank you, Paul, for all your hard work. You have been making Australia a better Country. Much appreciated.



Hope you get well soon Paul. You’re one of the best – frank, fearless and principled.

Sandra N


I have never met Paul but was aware of him and his outstanding career in public service. It was very pleasing to find him on Twitter & see the depth of this person. Wishing you a speedy recovery, Paul

Rosemary Vass


I hadn’t heard you weren’t well @phbarratt. Our thoughts are with you for a swift recovery. A true public servant in all your roles and personal life. Best wishes Paul.

Tony Windsor

This Post Has 27 Comments

  1. Peter Murray

    Paul is a brilliant man who reduces complicated matters to simple bullet points. Thanks, mate.
    Peter Murray

  2. Rex Williams

    The likes of Paul, Sue Wareham and Alison Broinowski have contributed much to making people ware of the futility of war.
    Sadly, now part of the daily activities of so many countries, the planning for war, the waste of lives and monies spend in its pursuit, are part of the culture of the last of the imperialistic powers, the USA and its acolytes, of which Australia is a very willing part.
    We have learnt little in our relatively short history but subservience both to `Britain and now to the United States

  3. David Jones @antsyturbo

    Best wishes Paul. Thanks for being on Twitter and keeping us informed on many matters. I hope you can continue to say on Twitter and engage.

  4. Chris Eggington

    Dear Paul, My heartfelt thanks to you for all of your energies in bringing this important issue to us and for all of your time informing us on Twitter generally. Your time as President of AWPR has been invaluable for us all to continue together as we move forward to bringing this into law via the parliament.

    You epitomise the best of the Australian public servant so missed in these days. Personally I’ll always be grateful to you and wish you comfort and peace as you step away from public life.
    Chris Egginton

  5. Dianah Walter

    A remarkable individual.
    Wisdom in spades.
    A public servant who truly served the public without fear or favour. Wishing you wellness @phbarratt
    thank you for your service #BeSureOnWar

  6. Klaas Woldring

    He was a man of remarkable courage and insight in foreign policy.
    As an immigrant to this country from the Netherlands I have great respect for such people.
    Regrettably, there are too few of them in Australia.
    The quality of our politicians leaves much to be desired. Major changes are required to turn this around.

  7. Lorraine Osborn

    Thank you Paul. Great legacy. Best wishes.

  8. Alexander Klein

    All the best Paul and thank you for putting people first. You have been an inspiration for many.

  9. Denise Allen

    Paul always calls it for what it is. His tweets are always from his personal professional experience. He knows exactly how bad this Morrison Govt is from his experience in the public services over so many years. Get well soon, Paul. 💜💜

  10. James Cox

    Paul exemplifies the practice of translating principles into action. I was fortunate to be part of the committee for Be Sure On War in the leadup to the 2019 election, and Paul’s passion and drive were in full display. He embodies speaking truth to power and it is up to all of us to follow his example.

  11. Max Le Blond

    Dear Paul

    You have been and will remain one of the very few people whose writings I turn to, to remind myself of the decency, the courage to speak truth to the powerful, the humane values that exemplify what is best about this country at a time when its political leadership seems to be doing its best to turn it into a cross between a Banana republic and a Kafkaesque nightmare. Warmest wishes for a speedy recovery.

  12. Robbie Johnson

    Really very sorry you are ill Paul, am greatly missing your pointed & pertinent tweets on Twitter. Hoping to see you recovered, fit & well & firing on all cylinders,
    Get well very soon, all the best. Robbie, southern Tassie

  13. Sally Corbett

    Dear Paul
    Only knowing you from twitter I’ve seen you to be not just knowledgeable, experienced, principled and ready to speak out against inhumane and authoritarian government policies, but also to be a simply wonderful person.

    Please get well soon.
    Sally Corbett

  14. Jennifer De Lacey

    Paul, we really miss you on Twitter!
    Your deep knowledge and wisdom is appreciated very much by many of us. If only this arrogant government had a fraction of it or could learn from experience.
    Best wishes for your recovery,
    Jenny De Lacey.

  15. Markus Pfister

    Hurry up and get better and get back to giving us the benefit of your experience, Paul!

  16. Jace

    Get well soon Paul. Your humility, insight and grace was very much appreciated. I already miss your tweets, be they conveying your life experiences, your love of your home and the town you live in or classical music. Take care sir.

  17. Russ S

    So sad to hear this news. Paul Barratt is an icon of Australian public service both during his working life in the APS and subsequently in many areas, particularly in the key area of war powers reform, which is badly needed. His contribution through Twitter has always been a mix of wisdom and wit.
    Paul, I hope you are able to resume your work, but whatever eventuates may good fortune smile on you.

  18. Steve Kinlan

    Paul certainly changed my mind about war powers. It took a while, but he was always tolerant of my I’ll formed views and overall gave great insight into how government and the public service should work. All the best Paul.

  19. Madeleine Laming

    Dear Paul, sorry to hear that you are unwell and hope it’s a temporary setback. I always found your comments interesting and thought-provoking.

  20. Susan Walker

    Have missed your tweets very much. So much wisdom, insight and wit. One of the best Defence Secretaries we’ve ever had. I wish you a speedy recovery.

  21. Mark Heydon

    I don’t know Paul personally but have followed him on Twitter for many years. I have greatly appreciated his contribution to debates. He has clearly made a massive contribution to public life in Australia and I wish him all the best and hope to see him contributing on Twitter for many years to come.

  22. jim mills

    Very sorry to hear of Paul being ill, his comments are greatly missed on Twitter and I wish him a speedy recovery.

  23. Kasia Cichonski

    Dear Paul, thinking of you and wishing you a full recovery. Get better soon! Miss your tweets on Twitter. Love Kasia 💕

  24. Scott Burchill

    Paul has always been a beacon of commonsense and human decency in public policy. He combines erudition, an interest in new ideas and a strong ethical commitment to principles. His unwavering commitment to public service has continued beyond his employment by governments. We are all indebted to his ongoing contribution to making Australia a more compassionate and humane country. I wish him all the very best for a speedy recovery.

  25. David Black

    Paul, I don’t know you personally, but for decades I have been aghast at how easily the lives of Australian men and women can be committed to overseas conflicts which are not necessarily in Australia’s national interests – without parliamentary scrutiny.

    Thankyou for all of the work you have done in raising the public’s awareness of the issue of needing to reform the process by which Australia is taken to war.

    I wish you a full & speedy recovery and all the best for your future.

    Mighty blessings,

  26. David Stephens

    Paul has always been there on worthy causes like AWPR and the campaign against the unnecessary and vainglorious extensions to the Australian War Memorial.

  27. Tom Sinkovits

    As a junior Trade official, Paul took me on to help him negotiate and secure a major trade deal. It was a marvellous experience to see him work tirelessly in the interest of Australia.

    His intellect and incredible memory combined with integrity and big picture strategic outlook stunned me.

    There is no other senior public servant I have ever had the privilege to know who can approximate Paul Barratt. Being frank and fearless did not please some ministers who were more interested in kowtowing sycophants. Paul had an active conscience and was loyal to his staff.

    The Westminster system could not have had a finer example of a dedicated apolitical civil servant able to focus at all times on the values and interests of our country.

    He was a loving family man.

    Tom Sinkovits OAM

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