Any day now the Prime Minister will announce the date for the next Federal election. Clearly economic management, the pricing of carbon and asylum seeker policy will be key items in the campaign, but we hope that the parties and the individual candidates will give more than momentary thought to some of the other important long term issues that Australian society faces.
One issue of critical importance is the process by which we decide to deploy the Australian Defence Force into international armed conflict, which at present is the prerogative of the Executive (Cabinet – effectively the Prime Minister) and which accordingly does not require Parliamentary approval.
We at the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry think that this procedure desperately needs to be changed, and we think that the public should demand that candidates in the forthcoming Federal election declare themselves on this and related issues.
To that end, we have drafted five questions which you might like to send to your local candidates:
1. Do you believe the Prime Minister should continue to have the authority to take Australia to war on her/his own?
2. Would you support a new bill requiring parliamentary debate and approval before the Australian Defence Force is deployed in overseas combat operations?
3. Do you support taking ANZUS back to its
(a) Original obligation of consultations ( not automatic military action);
(b) Original geography (the Pacific area); and
(c) Original purpose (defence against an armed attack)?
4. Do you support Article 1 of the ANZUS Treaty which obliges Australia "to refrain... from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations"? Would you support legislation to require UN authorisation for Australia to go to war other than in response to an armed attack?
5. The United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Denmark have each initiated a public inquiry into their involvement in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Do you support a review of the process by which the Australian Government decided to join the invasion, in order to determine whether the process was satisfactory?
We would be very pleased to hear from any of our readers the results of their inquiries.