Edition 90 February 2022
Editorial - The Morrison Doctrine

By AWPR President, Dr Alison Broinowski AM


The world has suddenly changed for the worse. The standoff over Ukraine turned into war on 24 February, after a series of attacks between separatist Russian-speakers and Ukrainians supporting the Kiev government led to Russia’s invasion. A long sequence of missed opportunities preceded this, including the Minsk accords, and the possibility of a multi-lingual federation in Ukraine. Further back, NATO’s lack of enthusiasm for Ukraine as a member, even though other former Soviet states were accepted, was paralleled by Russia’s determination to lose no more of its ‘near abroad’ to NATO.

The underlying dynamic of the past decade has been the rise of Russia and China. As competitors with the US for world domination, that rivalry has until now been peaceful, although collaboration between Presidents Putin and Xi has strengthened them both. But the rout of the US and its allies from Afghanistan must have seemed a window of opportunity to Russia and China.

In AWPR our core concern now, and always, is how Australia will enter a prospective war. Because the war powers in the Australian Constitution are unreformed, the ADF could be sent into overseas conflict at any time with no democratic process, as they have been five times since 1962. If the US uses its own forces in Ukraine, it will call on others to do the same. On past form, Australia would oblige.

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Public Statement on Ukraine

Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR) deplores the use of military force in Ukraine which could lead to untold numbers of casualties.

We join with many other civil society groups in calling for urgent diplomatic efforts to stop the expansion of this conflict through the revival of the Minsk accords, or through Ukrainian neutrality.

We note the decision of the federal government, with Labor support, to impose sanctions on Russia. However, it is essential that all our elected representatives in parliament be given the opportunity to have input into decisions on important foreign policy and defence matters.  It is essential also that such issues not be used for political point-scoring; too much is at stake for such tactics.

While the opposition has made its views clear we believe the government should allocate time for a proper parliamentary discussion of the issues involved so that all our MPs and senators have a say.
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Will the new Independents back War Powers Reform?
 For a long time now both major parties in Australia have resisted our call for war powers reform - the idea that parliament should debate and vote on Australian involvement in overseas wars.
The ALP has twice resolved to hold an inquiry into war powers in its first term in government.
Several smaller parties and independents in the parliament have supported our call for reform, including the Greens and before them the Australian Democrats. The Greens currently have a bill on the matter before the Senate.
But with an election just weeks away is the outlook changing? We’re told that the polls are looking very bad for the Morrison government and in addition a wave of new moderate independents looks set to take a number of seats in the lower house.
Could these independents play a key role in trying to reform how we go to war in Australia?

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AWPR Veteran Initiative

AWPR’s campaign No War Without Parliament is seeking the voices of some of those Australians most heavily affected by decisions for overseas wars – ADF veterans and their families.

Many hundreds of Australian families are today living with the terrible grief of having lost a loved one as a result of military service in Australia’s recent wars. Many more are living with war’s emotional and physical traumas.

We are seeking the signatures of ADF veterans and family members for an appeal to all federal parliamentarians, urging their reform of the current dangerous and undemocratic war powers.

To date we have almost 200 signatures but we are keen to hear from more people.

Please circulate our Veteran Initiative as widely as you can, especially to veterans and their families whom you know.

Articles of Note 

Arms Industry–The Tail Wagging the Dog
War would be in no-one’s interests. How often have we heard that, in the current Ukraine crisis? But there is one obvious exception. ‘Defence industries’ are perennial winners in such situations and – whatever the outcome of the standoff involving thousands of Russian troops at the border – arms dealers will be circling for opportunities to profit.

Read the article
Albanese should start by opening door to a China reset
The US alliance has become a way of life for a generation of politicians, policymakers and pundits. For a new Labor cabinet, this will require delicacy and tact: how to maintain support for the alliance while grappling with an era in which American resolve continues to be tested by US domestic turmoil and division.

Read the article
Biden’s decision on frozen Afghanistan money is tantamount to mass murder
A senior Democratic foreign policy aide, who was granted anonymity to openly share his thoughts on the Biden administration’s actions, said the policy “effectively amounts to mass murder.” According to the aide, Biden “has had warnings from the UN Secretary General, the International Rescue Committee, and the Red Cross, with a unanimous consensus that the liquidity of the central bank is of paramount importance.”

Read the article
Anti-war networks say 'No' to US-backed war in Ukraine
In an open letter the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) called on the prime minister, the foreign minister and the defence minister to use their “close relationship” with British foreign and defence Ministers and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to ensure nuclear weapons are not used. It also called for the US and Australia to allow the 2015 Minsk II agreement parties — Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine — to work on a resolution.

Read the article

Join our community & support reform

The start of the year is a great time to become an AWPR Member and help us realise our vision of war powers reform. Read More    

Our capacity for campaign work also relies on donations.  Please consider making a donation no matter how small.

Join us as we build a movement to change the way we go to war in Australia

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