Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR) have expressed concern that the problem of ‘mission creep’ for our troops in Iraq, already in evidence, seems set to escalate, following the NZ Prime Minister John Key’s announcement of the deployment of 143 NZ defence personnel to Iraq.
“Mission creep has been happening since the decision mid-last year to deploy ADF forces to Iraq,” said AWPR President Paul Barratt, former Defence Department secretary. “In August-September 2014, within a matter of weeks, a humanitarian mission to drop relief supplies to fleeing civilians was transformed first into using transport aircraft to deliver arms and ammunition, then to the deployment of combat aircraft, plus 200 SAS deployed as ‘military advisers’”.
The fate of our ADF personnel, and the people in whose countries they fight, should not be vulnerable to the judgements or misjudgements of a single person, especially one prone to ‘captain’s call’ decisions. Having the war powers effectively in the hands of the Prime Minister is a licence for the PM to make whatever decisions about ADF deployment he wishes, with no input from parliament. The government has not been held accountable for moving the goalposts.
Dr Alison Broinowski, formerly an Australian diplomat, said neither of the Prime Ministers had explained to the people of Australia or New Zealand why these additional troops were needed, who had invited them, or how long they would stay.
“If they are going to Iraq on diplomatic passports, does that mean no Status of Forces Agreement has been reached with the government of Iraq?” Dr Broinowski asked. “Is this not sleight of hand by the two governments of Australia and New Zealand? If they have nothing to hide, why will they not spell out all the facts for their citizens?”
Australians for War Powers Reform is a project of the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry, which believes there are fundamentally important lessons to be learnt from the 2003 invasion of Iraq. AWPR advocates mandatory debate in Parliament, and the need for Parliamentary authorisation, before any deployment of the ADF into overseas armed conflict can occur. It is time to reform and democratise Australia’s war powers.
For further information or interview please contact:
Paul Barratt AO, AWPR President
Dr Alison Broinowski, AWPR spokesperson
More information on Australians for War Powers Reform: iraqwarinquiry.org.au