29 October 2014
Dear members, supporters, readers and well-wishers,
Welcome to the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry bulletin.
This week we dedicate our edition to the new polling undertaken by Australians for War Powers Reform, a project of the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry, which was released today.
The polling, undertaken by Roy Morgan, asked Australians whether they believe the Parliament should be required to approve decisions to commit Australian troops to war.
Three out of four Australians surveyed responded that, unless there is immediate danger to Australia, Parliament should be required to approve a decision to send Australian troops into armed conflict abroad.
And nearly one in three believe that Parliament should be required to approve that decision even when there is immediate danger to Australia.
In this edition:
We hope you enjoy reading.
Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry
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Australians for War Powers Reform, a project of the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry (Inc), commissioned a public opinion poll that was conducted by Roy Morgan in October 2014. The full results can be downloaded from our website, with the weighted results on page 5 being most representative.
The poll question, and results, were as follows:
It is not currently required that Parliament be consulted before Australian troops are sent into armed conflict abroad. Do you believe Parliament’s approval of such decisions should be required?
A Yes, always 31.0 %
B Yes, unless immediate danger to Australia 45.7 %
C No 23.4 %
In other words, 3 out of 4 Australians believe that, unless there is immediate danger to Australia, Parliament should be required to approve a decision to send Australian troops into armed conflict abroad.
And nearly 1 in 3 believe that Parliament should be required to approve that decision even when there is immediate danger to Australia.
Roy Morgan undertook the research by SMS polling of a sample of 1,201 respondents, all being Australians aged 18 years and over, during the period 16 – 17 October 2014. The response rate was reported by Roy Morgan to be good, with the sample broadly representative by age/sex/state.
• Read more here.
“On the issue of a nation going to war, which is routinely referred to as the most momentous decision a country can make. ¾ Australians want such decisions decided in Parliament. However, on this issue our elected representatives have mostly been silent.”
The same question was put to every federal parliamentarian, initially by letter then by email reminder, over a two-week period in October 2014.
The response rate from parliamentarians was, with very notable exceptions, appallingly low. Less than 20 Parliamentarians responded by the due date. All responses can be found on our website and any responses received from now on will be added.
Supporters can review the responses and are encouraged to email their Member of Parliament or Senator to encourage them to respond. The table listed on our website allows for you to click on the name of the Parliamentarian and send an email directly. We would appreciate receiving a copy of any emails you send to Parliamentarians: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are told that our troops fight to preserve our democracy. That democracy appears to be missing-in-action when the nation goes to war.
The office of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop informed CIWI that the Minister is unable to participate in any surveys, a rule that is enforced by the Chief Government Whip. CIWI understands that this applies to all Liberal parliamentarians.
While indicating that they do not believe Parliament should have to approve a decision to send the ADF into armed combat abroad, a very small number of representatives sent a considered reply, which is acknowledged and appreciated. Their reasons given for opposing the need for Parliamentary approval have been addressed by CIWI President and former Defence Department secretary Paul Barratt and former PM Malcolm Fraser.
• Read more here.
Paul Barratt, President of the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry and former Secretary to the Department of Defence has written a very comprehensive opinion piece outlining his views on why democracy is missing as we rush to war. In it he states,
“For a society which believes that power flows from the people to the state rather than the reverse, the spectacle of Prime Ministers clinging to the ancient privileges of the sovereign to decide on matters of war and peace is both an anomaly and an anachronism. When it comes to the grave decision to commit Australian troops to war, our government needs to move with the times.
Within the space of three weeks in August-September Tony Abbott, on his own authority, was able to take Australia from dropping biscuits and bottled water for fleeing Yazidi civilians to landing arms and munitions for one party to the conflict – under the rubric of alleviating “the humanitarian situation in Iraq”. Remarkably, these deliveries of arms and munitions to unnamed forces were at the request of the United States, not at that stage the Government of Iraq.
The usual self-serving arguments the major parties advance against Parliamentary involvement are without merit. Parliament can be consulted within the time it takes to mount any major deployment. Parliament will not prevent timely action when the nation is genuinely under threat, because in those circumstances Government and Opposition (and I would expect The Greens) will support taking action.”
On Wednesday 29 October 2014, ABC Breakfast presenter Fran Kelly interviewed Former Department of Defence Secretary Paul Barratt on Radio National. In the interview Paul outlines why it should be compulsory for the Australian government to receive parliamentary approval before committing troops, arms, and supplies, to overseas combat.
• Listen to the full interview here.
Greens Senator Scott Ludlam has renewed calls for an inquiry into the 2003 Iraq War after the polling results were released. Senator Ludlam noted,
“Today’s poll results show that Australians do not want our nation to blindly commit to wars without a clear strategy, objective, end date or success criteria.
“Before we commit more deeply to this open-ended war in Iraq, there must be an independent inquiry into Australia’s participation in the 2003 invasion that destabilised the region.”
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The views expressed in this bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry (Inc). Readers should note that the Campaign for an Iraq war Inquiry (Inc) seeks a diversity of views and opinions in order to identify common ground.