Australians for War Powers Reform

Australian governments continue the dangerous practice of involving us in wars overseas with no debate whatsoever or approval in our parliament.

If you would like to add your name to the scrolling list of supporters below, please contact us.

Our objectives

  • Seek reform of the War Powers under which the executive government can commit troops to international conflict
  • Campaign for independent reviews of Australia’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and public reports on all aspects of them

Join the campaign

AWPR needs your help to spread the word that Australia can currently be taken to war by the decision of one person, and that needs to change.  Please tell your friends and relatives and get them to support this campaign too.  Write to the paper about it.  Contact your MP.

The steps we envisage:

  • Raise public awareness of the issues relevant to the deployment of the Australian Defence Force into international armed conflict
  • Recommend measures to improve the integrity of the decision-making and public communication processes involved in committing troops to international armed conflict.
  • Campaign for the establishment of independent expert review of all Twenty First Century deployments of the Australian Defence Force into international armed conflict to determine:
    • The process by which the deployment was decided and the information which was considered in arriving at that decision
    • Whether the deployment was consistent with both international law and Australian Constitutional law, its conventions and practice.
    • The extent to which the decision, its basis, and the objectives of the deployment were communicated honestly and in a timely manner to the Parliament and the Australian public
    • The extent to which the likely costs, including the humanitarian costs, were articulated, with plans as to how they would be addressed.
    • The extent to which adequate plans were made for post-conflict rehabilitation and resettlement
    • The extent to which the stated objectives of the deployment were realised
    • The extent to which the deployment was confined to, or exceeded, the originally stated objectives

Members and supporters of the Campaign include:


Rt Hon Malcolm Fraser
The late Rt Hon Malcolm Fraser AC CH, former Prime Minister of Australia, was a strong supporter of the campaign from its inception, and helped launch it in August 2012

  • Dr Tim Anderson Senior lecturer in Political Economy, University of Sydney
  • Paul Barratt AO Former Deputy Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; former Secretary, Department of Defence
  • Richard Butler AC Former Australian Ambassador to the United Nations
  • Professor Bob Douglas AO Former director NCEPH at Australian National University; founder of Australia21
  • Annette Brownlie President, Just Peace Queensland Inc
  • Dr Alison Broinowski Former diplomat; Visiting Fellow, Department of Asian Studies, ANU
  • Richard Broinowski Former ambassador; President AIIA NSW
  • Dr Daryl Le Cornu Educator, Co-Vice President UNAA NSW Division
  • Andrew Farran International Lawyer; Business Consultant. Formerly with Departments of External Affairs and Defence, and Law Faculty Monash University
  • Dr Jenny Grounds Immediate past President, Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia)
  • General (ret’d) Peter Gration AC, OBE Former Chief of the Australian Defence Force
  • Assoc Professor Chris Hamer President, Scientists for Global Responsibility. President, World Citizens Association (Aust). Chairman, Institute for Global Peace and Sustainable Governance
  • Tony Kevin Writer; former career diplomat; ambassador to Poland 1991-94; and Cambodia 1994–97
  • Dr Ann Kent Visiting Fellow, ANU College of Law; China scholar
  • Dr Bruce Kent Visiting Fellow, ANU National Europe Centre
  • Professor John Langmore School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne; former MP for Fraser; former director of UN Division of Social Policy and Development, and representative of the ILO to the UN
  • Bill Lodwick Former Director of the Army Simulation Office and Centre for Lessons Learned
  • Antony Loewenstein Independent journalist, author and film-maker
  • Associate Professor Jake Lynch Director, CPACS at the University of Sydney
  • Dr Michael McKinley Visiting Fellow, College of Arts and Social Science, Australian National University
  • Kellie Merritt Social worker; widow of Flight Lt Paul Pardoel
  • Professor Rob Moodie AM Professor of Public Health, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne
  • Donna Mulhearn Human shield in Iraq; activist
  • Dr Douglas Newton Historian
  • James O’Neill Barrister
  • Robert O’Neill Emeritus Professor, ANU
  • Bishop (ret’d) Pat Power Retired Catholic Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn
  • Ruth Russell Human shield in Iraq; Joint National Coordinator, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
  • Dr Karin von Strokirch Senior Lecturer International Relations, University of New England
  • Margaret Swieringa Former Secretary, Parliamentary Intelligence Committee
  • Professor Richard Tanter School of Social and Political Studies, University of Melbourne; Senior Research Associate, Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability
  • N.A.J. Taylor La Trobe University and The University of Queensland
  • Noel Turnbull Adjunct Professor, School of Media and Communications, RMIT
  • Professor Ramesh Thakur Professor of International Relations, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University; Adjunct Professor, Institute for Ethics, Governance and Law, Griffith University; former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General
  • Jo Vallentine Former Senator for Western Australia; activist
  • Dr Sue Wareham OAM Vice-President, Medical Association for Prevention of War
  • Pera Wells Vice-President of the Australian Council for Human Rights Education, Fellow of the Australia-India Institute, former Secretary-General of the World Federation of UN Associations
  • Susanne Weress Former Director, MSF Australia
  • Dr Alex Wodak AM Former Director, Alcohol and Drug Services, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney
  • Garry Woodard Former ambassador; Senior Fellow, Dept of Politics, University of Melbourne
  • Professor Gerry Simpson Professor of Law, Melbourne University

Committee members:

Paul Barratt,  Alison Broinowski, Rob Baker, Andrew Farran, Sue Wareham, Peter Hayes, Pera Wells and Sam Gazal

2012 Call for an Iraq War Inquiry

The 2003 invasion of Iraq was a humanitarian, legal, political and strategic disaster. It has left a trail of death and destruction and millions of refugees. It has undermined the role of international law and strengthened terrorism.

Australia’s role in the war raised very serious questions of government honesty and accountability. If we do not learn lessons from this episode, we are at grave risk of engaging in equally ill-founded wars in the future.

There are many unanswered questions in relation to Australia’s decision to go to war. They include:

  • What was the Government’s decision-making process and timing that led to our participation in the invasion?
  • What were the objectives, and how was success to be defined?
  • How did the Government reconcile conflicting intelligence assessments?
  • How did the Government attempt to satisfy itself of the legality of the invasion?
  • Which of the many NGO predictions of widespread and severe civilian suffering, including by children, did the Government consider?  If none, why not?
  • To what extent were the statements made to the Parliament and the public consistent with all the available relevant assessments?

Australian troops are entrusted to help safeguard our security. Any suspicion that their lives, and the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians, have been placed in jeopardy on the basis of anything other than the most robust and rigorous decision making process, cannot be ignored.

Both the UK and the Netherlands have conducted official inquiries into their own involvement in the war; Australia has not. It is now more than a decade since the war commenced, and it is time we did so.

We call for an independent inquiry into the decisions that led to Australia invading Iraq, to draw out what lessons can be learned for the future, and a review of the war powers of the government.

Signatories to this appeal included:

  • Paul Barratt AO
  • Dr Alison Broinowski
  • Adjunct Professor Richard Broinowski
  • Associate Professor Colin D Butler
  • Brigadier (Ret’d) Adrian d’Hage
  • Professor Trevor Duke
  • Elizabeth Evatt AC
  • Andrew Farran
  • Rt Hon Malcolm Fraser AC CH
  • Air Marshal (ret’d) Ray Funnel
  • General (ret’d) Peter Gration AC OBE
  • Dr Jenny Grounds
  • Bruce Haigh
  • Professor John Langmore
  • Associate Professor Jake Lynch
  • Professor Fred Mendelsohn AO FAA
  • Dr Ann Moyal AM
  • The Hon Alastair Nicholson AO RFD QC
  • Professor Allan Patience
  • Professor Stuart Rees AM
  • Professor Henry Reynolds
  • Margaret Reynolds
  • Associate Professor Tilman Ruff AM
  • Ruth Russell
  • Associate Professor Peter Sainsbury
  • Lt Gen (ret’d) John Sanderson
  • Professor Ben Saul
  • Professor David Shearman
  • Dominique De Stoop
  • Professor Richard Tanter
  • N.A.J. Taylor
  • Professor Ramesh Thakur
  • Dr Sue Wareham OAM
  • Garry Woodard

Student-led demonstration, Baghdad,
early March 2003.
Photo: Donna Mulhearn