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)
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 Baker, AWPR 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 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
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 long time 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
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.
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
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.