Letter to Foreign Minister: DFAT Reply

Note from Paul Barratt

On 13 March 2014 I wrote to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, in similar terms to my Letter to the Prime Minister, seeking the establishment of an independent inquiry into Australia’s involvement in the Iraq War, and a commitment from Australia’s elected representatives to reforming the so called ‘war powers’, i.e., the power to deploy elements of the Australian Defence Force into international armed conflict, which we would like to see relocated from the Executive to the Parliament.

Some time later I received a rather unsatisfactory reply (undated) on her behalf from an officer of her Department, the text of which is reproduced below. My reply to that letter will be provided in a later post.

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Mr Paul Barratt
President
Iraq War Inquiry Group Inc.
PO Box 2228
MALVERN EAST VIC 3145

Dear Mr Barratt

Thanks you for your letter of 13 March, calling for a comprehensive inquiry into Australia’s participation in the Iraq War. I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop MP.

I note the progress of the inquiry, chaired by Sir John Chilcot, into Britain’s involvement in theIraq war. At this time, however, the Australian Government has no plans to hold an inquiry on this subject.

Australia’s main combat elements were withdrawn from Iraq in June 2008 and our military commitment there formally concluded on 31 July 2009. The Government recognises the bravery, ability and integrity of the more than 20,000 Australian Defence Force personnel who were deployed to this theatre.

Questions relating to Australia’s role in the war were examined by the predecessor to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, in its 2004 report Inquiry into Intelligence on Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction. The report of the subsequent Inquiry into Australian Intelligence Agencies, also in 2004, contains a rigorous analysis of intelligence and decision-making related to Iraq.

The Government is committed to strengthening its bilateral relationship with Iraq, focussing on commercial engagement in areas including agriculture, resources, education and health.

Thank you for bringing your views to the attention of the Minister.

Yours sincerely

(Signed)

Assistant Secretary
Middle East Branch

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by AWPR

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