One person can decide if Australia goes to war. Here’s why that needs to change

A parliamentary inquiry inspecting how Australia decides to enter international armed conflict was declared in September 2022, attracting 113 submissions, 94 of them in favour of change.

Admirers of transparency from throughout the political spectrum argued a smart and compelling situation for reform that will be complicated for the govt to counter.

Donna Mulhearn in Iraq in 2003.

Donna Mulhearn in Iraq in 2003.

The inquiry’s report and tips are because of any day now, but noises coming out of government are not indicating a mood for modify.

This is remarkable taking into consideration how badly the undemocratic “captain’s call” has served us, resulting in overseas policy disasters that landed Australian troops in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Protests against the Iraq War in 2003.

Protests towards the Iraq War in 2003.Credit:Simon Schluter

The significant charge of people involvements is intergenerational and borne by our full society by means of harm, publish-traumatic anxiety ailment, and the diverting of huge quantities of taxpayer resources from urgent desires in health and fitness, training, infrastructure and so on.

Polls demonstrate an mind-boggling 87 per cent of Australians help reform to need parliamentary approval just before the country goes to war.

Modest legislative change will convey us into line with comparable liberal democracies and deliver what Australians expect with even the smallest of political choices: transparency, scrutiny, accountability.

Even though some parliamentarians resist this sort of reform, Iraqis are even now residing with the consequences of our “captain’s call” to sign up for the Coalition of the Keen in 2003.

The catastrophic influence of the invasion, and subsequent occupation, civil war and rise and rampage of Islamic Point out, is effectively documented and a surprising indictment of that fateful conclusion.

Even now, my Iraqi friends are deeply pessimistic about the foreseeable future, their sights confirmed by non-governmental organisation studies about the dire condition of the unstable nation. They cite out-of-management corruption, the absence of serious democracy, and federal government oppression as the key difficulties dampening their hopes.

For its section, the Australia government should call an unbiased inquiry to examine its involvement in the unlawful invasion of Iraq, as other nations have accomplished. It ought to apologise, shell out reparations and commit to prolonged-expression assist for Iraq.

To the protesters of 2003, you ended up correct to just take to the streets, background has confirmed that. But 20 yrs on it is time to protest anew and insist on alter to the way Australia decides to go to war.

To the members of the government who marched with us back then and delivered passionate speeches to the crowds: heed the connect with of your young selves and do not squander this opportunity.


You ended up correct then – and on the 20th anniversary of Howard’s appalling decision you have the chance to be ideal yet again: legislate that the parliament have to engage in debate and a vote before Australia goes to war.

To enter a foreign war is a spectacular and extraordinary diversion from the regular progress of a country.

Why not attract on the power of democracy when taking into consideration the gravest issue a nation will facial area? With a parliamentary inquiry contemplating this actual issue, now is the time to act on the classes of Iraq.

Donna Mulhearn was a human defend during the Iraq war and afterwards returned as an support employee and researcher. She is a member of Australians for War Powers Reform.

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