UK Example Shows Need for Greens War Powers Reform

Scott Lulam
September 02, 2013

The defeat of the British Prime Minister's motion on military intervention in Syria in the House of Commons and President Obama taking the matter to Congress highlights the importance of strengthening Australia's democracy - by making military action subject to a vote in parliament.Greens spokesperson assisting on Defence, Senator Scott Ludlam, has a War Powers Bill in the Senate to shift the power to make war from the Cabinet to the Parliament.

"The war on Iraq made it painfully clear that allowing a handful of people clustered around a Prime Minister to send Australian forces to war is a dreadful, dangerous situation.

"Today at the National Press Club the Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the decision to send Australian forces to war should be decided by Parliament - but the Coalition has never agreed to support making that law by voting for the Greens' War Powers Bill.

"Mr Abbott said that to the best of his recollection all the conflicts in which Australia has been involved have been considered by the Parliament, but Parliament certainly had no say over Australia joining the invasion of Iraq. We look forward to Mr Abbott now supporting our Bill in the next Parliament.

"The situation in Syria is horrendous but also complex. Air strikes on a comparatively densely populated country in the grips of street-to-street civil war risks innocent lives and exacerbating the situation in Syria and the region.

"In the UK the Prime Minister had to present the grave decision to militarily intervene in Syria to the House of Commons - to the elected representatives of the people - and they said no. We don't have that power in Australia - and that must change."

PN Member Scott Lulam is a peace and environmental activist and works as a member of Austrailian Parliament. With varying fields of interest and experience, Senator Lulam's expertise in globalization, peace studies and environmental reform lends a unique perspective to PNCP. 


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Photo by Beshroffline.