Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has refused to review the mechanisms and legislative base for how Australia goes to war or becomes involved in conflicts such as in Iraq and Afghanistan.
CLA in January released three CLA Australia Day letters, one of which called on the PM to hold a thorough review of the organizational and legal background of how Australia goes to war. In response, on behalf of the PM, his senior adviser (foreign affairs, national security, defence and trade), Gary Quinlan, said:
“The process (of ‘committing to any military operation‘) is legally valid and has been followed by successive Australian Governments. Any decision to commit Australian Defence Force personnel into a conflict involves extensive consultation with various organizations and agencies.
“The government is satisfied with the existing procedure and has no intention of revising it,? Mr Quinlan wrote on the PM‘s behalf.
CLA says the ‘existing prodedure‘ ‘with various organizations/agencies‘ does not:
- Involve any vote, at the beginning or in subsequent confirmation, by the Australian Parliament;
- Include a budget allocation specifically for the particular conflict, at first or annually, so that the amount of initial and ongoing expenditure can be monitored publicly and approved by the legislature;
- Ensure that the Parliament has oversight approval of ADF (or police, or security) commitment to any conflict as it progresses, over months or years; or
- Involve any mechanism for mandatory reporting to the Parliament/people at any time.
“The way Australia decides to go to war is by a secret conclave of faceless people who do not have to justify their decision in public or seek approval for expenditure in any discrete way in any forum at any time,” CLA CEO Bill Rowlings said.
“This is clearly not a democratic process, and we believe it must be improved. "CLA calls on all concerned groups in Australia to demand a thorough, public and consultative review to produce a ‘process‘ which better matches Australia‘s society and sophisticated communications in the 21st Century.”