Push for parliament nod for war deployment

·2-min read

The entire parliament must decide on sending the Australian military into future wars, under laws proposed by the Greens.

The Greens brought on their war powers bill for debate on Monday, one day before the United States' deadline for the withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan.

At present, Australia's decisions to go to war are a matter for the prime minister and cabinet.

The proposed war powers bill would require a vote by both chambers to approve the deployment of the Australian Defence Force beyond Australia's territorial boundaries.

Greens senator Jordon Steele-John warned parliament that "unscrupulous, egotistical and misguided politicians" may seek to exploit a national or international crisis for their own personal or strategic ends.

The bill would also mean parliament receives regular intelligence updates to weigh up the legality, operational scope and when to end a mission, which critics say would put the ADF in danger.

The Morrison government and Labor oppose the bill and argue the executive must retain the powers, in line with constitutional practice.

Labor's Kristina Keneally said Australia does not need parliamentary approval to send the ADF into armed conflict, peacekeeping or disaster relief.

"It is imperative that the executive have the power to act swiftly and decisively when deploying our troops," Senator Keneally said.

Independent senator Rex Patrick argued the next step should be to refer the bill to a Senate committee for immediate inquiry, so the issues were not swept aside.

Debate on the bill was interrupted to deal with other Senate business.

Former diplomat and acting president of Australians for War Powers Reform, Alison Broinowski, has urged parliament to think about Afghanistan and future wars.

"Thousands of people in Afghanistan are now facing imminent danger following the complete mismanagement of the withdrawal of troops, in a war that was never properly and transparently scrutinised in Australia," Dr Broinowski said.

"We cannot continue to shut out the entire parliament when considering future wars."

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