Reply from the Minister for Defence

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Note by Paul Barratt

On 13 March 2014 I wrote to the Minister for Defence, in terms similar to my Letter to the Prime Minister, seeking the establishment of an independent inquiry into Australia’s involvement in the Iraq War, and a commitment from Australia’s elected representatives to reforming the so called ‘war powers’, i.e., the power to deploy elements of the Australian Defence Force into international armed conflict, which we would like to see relocated from the Executive to the Parliament.

I have now received his reply, the text of which is reproduced below.


Mr Paul Barratt AO
Iraq War Inquiry Group Inc.
PO Box 2228

Dear Mr Barratt

Thank you for your correspondence of 13 March 2014 to the Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Warren Truss MP; the Minister for Employment, Senator the Hon Eric Abetz; and the Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis regarding calls for an inquiry into Australia’s participation in the Iraq War. As the matters falls within my portfolio responsibilities, your correspondence has been passed to me for response.

Questions relating to the decision to send the Australian Defence Force to Iraq have previously been examined by Parliamentary inquiries. On 1 March 2004, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service and the Defence Signals Directorate tabled a report on the Intelligence on Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction. The 2004 Flood Report on Australian Intelligence Agencies included intelligence in relation to Iraq. Separately, thorough inquiries into the conduct of the Australian Defence Force, with particular reference to detainee management, were held in 2004 and 2005.

As such, I do not consider a further review or inquiry into Australia’s military commitment to the war in Iraq is required. I also note the previous Australian Government’s stated position that an inquiry into the Iraq War was not required. Australia is committed to a long-term partnership with the Iraqi Government to help build a secure and prosperous future for Iraq. The Government continues to work with the Iraqi Armed Forces through our Defence Cooperation Program, which provides officer training and English language training.

In relation to your suggestion for reforming the ‘war power’, you may find the article, Parliamentary involvement in declaring war and deploying forces overseas, a useful summary of relevant issues. This article outlines relevant domestic and Constitutional provisions and considers the role of the Australian Parliament when there is a declaration of war by Australia. This article is available at:

I trust this information will be of assistance.

Yours sincerely

David Johnston
23 April 2014


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