Independent Member for Clark, Andrew Wilkie, says the decision to send Australians to war cannot continue to rest with the Prime Minister alone because such a serious matter deserves a level of scrutiny only achieved through rigorous parliamentary debate.
“Today in Question Time I urged the Prime Minister to reform our war powers and ensure parliamentary scrutiny of the decision to deploy our troops overseas,” Mr Wilkie said.
“Citing executive powers of the Commonwealth, the PM continues to ignore the fact that Parliament can and should play a key role. Australians understand going to war is the most momentous decision that can be made on their behalf, and in a democracy it’s their elected representatives who should have that responsibility.
“Going to war is a decision that affects us all, not just the Defence Force, and should be made by the Parliament and not just the Prime Minister of the day. That he or she might consult with Cabinet and the Chief of the Defence Force is simply not good enough. The greatest possible degree of scrutiny and oversight must be exercised before our country puts our troops’ lives on the line in deadly conflicts like Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
“Efforts to introduce war reform legislation, however, continue to lack the support of the major parties. The fact that a Prime Minister can unilaterally wage war remains completely out of step with community expectations. Australia is an outlier on this issue, particularly given comparable democracies like the US, UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands all require, by law or convention, that their elected representatives make the decision to go to war, or not.”