Edition 98 October 2022

Military budget on the rise under Labor

Editorial By Dr Alison Broinowski

We all know about lies and statistics and wars. This month, the Government outdid itself and its predecessors by committing in the budget to increase military spending to $48.7 billion, just under 2 percent of GDP. And that’s without even counting the cost of AUKUS.

Defence Minister Richard Marles twice foreshadowed and then announced Australia’s intention to send 70 ADF personnel to Britain to train Ukrainian troops. To do what we don’t yet know, for how long, or at what cost. But Russia has already said that such activities by EU countries will make them, and presumably Australia too, combatants in the Ukraine war.

Australia shows every sign of mission creep, familiar to everyone old enough to remember Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Bipartisanship means that the process perpetuated by the Coalition continues under Labor.

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Linda Reynolds challenged over 'lives at risk' claim

An assertion by Liberal Senator Linda Reynolds that changing the law to give the parliament a say over going to war, could endanger the lives of ADF personnel, has been described as fanciful.

The former Morrison government minister made the claim in comments published by Michael West Media.

“It is absurd to say that allowing our national parliament to vote on overseas wars could lead to life threatening consequences for our defence forces”, said Dr Alison Broinowski AM, former diplomat and President of AWPR. 

“Many other modern nations have democratic war powers including the US, UK and several European countries, and these powers have been exercised for years without any harm to service personnel.”

Read the AWPR media release

Defence Department honours Paul Barratt
The Defence Department held a memorial event on October 24 for Paul Barratt AO to honour his life and his enormous contribution to defence and public service in Australia.

Friends, family and senior officials gathered in Canberra at the Australian War College at Weston Creek in the ACT, just over a year after his passing.

Paul was Secretary of Defence in the 1990s and was the co-founder of Australians for War Powers Reform, which began in 2012 as The Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry (CIWI).

The former Chief of Defence Admiral Chris Barrie recorded a video address for the event which you can view here.

Paul’s tireless work for war powers reform is an inspiration for all of us at AWPR, as we continue to campaign for this long overdue change to public policy.

Please visit this page on our website which includes a tribute by Dr Alison Broinowski.

See also:  ABC News story on the life of Paul Barratt

New book gives great insight into the horrors of war

The latest book by renowned journalist Chris Hedges gives us an incredible account of the victims of wars and the horrors they suffer. Entitled The Greatest Evil is War, it also examines the inner workings of war ideologues and the ‘permanent war industry’.

Drawing on his own personal experience as a war correspondent in Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East and Central America, Hedges illustrates how war destroys individuals, families, communities and countries. He speaks with US war veterans including those who served in Iraq about their struggle to survive once they return home and how the same institutions that sent them to war, often abandon them.

Read more
Articles of Note

A new book 'Subimperial Power - Australia in the International Arena' argues Australians ought to be told what our relationship with the United States is really about: a relationship where we eagerly and routinely act to help the US keep its imperial position at the apex of global power. Iraq, Afghanistan and now AUKUS - the book argues Australians have been kept in the dark as to the real motivations behind these consequential decisions.  (ABC Radio)
Listen to this radio interview
Following the announcement that OPEC+ would drastically cut oil production, President Biden called for Washington’s relationship with Saudi Arabia to be “re-evaluated”. Members of Congress have proposed legislation that would, if enacted into law, effectively do so. The War Powers Resolution could cut US aid to the kingdom’s war on Yemen; and it has wide bipartisan support. (Responsible Statecraft)
Read this article
Two retired U.S. admirals and three former U.S. Navy civilian leaders are playing critical but secretive roles as paid advisers to the government of Australia during its negotiations to acquire top-secret nuclear submarine technology from the United States and Britain. The Americans are among a group of former U.S. Navy officials whom the Australian government has hired as high-dollar consultants to help transform its fleet of ships and submarines, receiving contracts worth as much as $800,000 a person, documents show. (Washington Post)
Read this special investigation
Tensions between China and the United States and the current War in Ukraine contribute to the very real possibility that Australian men and women could be sent into an armed conflict. Retired Major Cameron Leckie spoke to Radio 4BC to explain the Australians for War Powers Reform movement and argues that the decision for Australians to go to war must go through the parliament. (Radio 4BC Brisbane)
Hear this interview
The first “War Widows Day” established to honour war widows (and widowers) has been commemorated today, more than a century since casualties in World War One generated the first widows. There are 15,000 war widows in NSW alone and the new commemorative day will be marked with events and fundraising campaigns. (SMH)
Read this article
North Australia is becoming a US military colony. It started with Julia Gillard agreeing with Barack Obama for the stationing of marines in Darwin. It followed last year with the Morrison government at a US/Australia Ministerial meeting committing us to ‘high end war- fighting and combined military operations in the region’ with the United States. (Pearls and Irritations)
Read this article

The War Powers Inquiry needs to hear from you
This month we received the great news that the government has announced a parliamentary inquiry into war powers in Australia.

This is a major step forward for our campaign but there are strong forces working against reform.

That is why we need you, our supporters and members, to write a submission to the inquiry.

This inquiry needs to hear a loud and clear message from the Australian community – we want full transparency and accountability before we send troops to any war overseas.

Take action now with this simple guide
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