Monday, October 20, 2014

Lettter re Status of Forces

Below is the text of a letter sent to the Prime Minister on 9 October 2014. Similar letters were sent to the Foreign Minister and the Defence Minister.


9 October 2014

The Hon. Tony Abbott MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House

Dear Mr Abbott

The Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry has repeatedly expressed concern about the manner in which Australia entered the war in Iraq in 2003. Our organisation is equally concerned about the present situation, and the fact that errors of the past are seemingly being repeated.

We and our members are particularly anxious that whatever Australia does should meet the three tests of international law which would legitimate the deployment of Australian forces to another country: that it responds to an immediate threat, to a resolution of the UN Security Council, or to an invitation from the government of the country involved.

Ministers have been quoted several times in the media, anticipating a formal invitation from Iraq to send Australian forces. If such an invitation has been received, orally or in writing, from Iraq, we invite you to announce it publicly, and to table it in the Parliament without delay. As you will appreciate, without such evidence that our armed presence is accepted, the legality of Australia’s actions could be in doubt.

A related issue concerns the Status of Forces Agreement which is to apply to Australians in Iraq. If such an agreement has not been concluded, we consider that Australian public should be informed as to the issues of concern to the Iraqi Government that are delaying its progress. If no such agreement is reached, then the continued presence of Australian forces in Iraq must be questioned. 

We seek your assurance that the Australian public will be notified promptly when the Status of Forces Agreement has been finalised, and that its contents will be made public.

Yours sincerely

Paul Barratt


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Letter to Members of Parliament

Below is the text of a letter sent to all Members of Federal Parliament on 9 October 2014.


Dear MP  [ personalised ]

Your response is sought on whether Parliament should be required to authorise any deployment of the ADF into armed conflict abroad.

The Australian Government has recently authorised the deployment to the Middle East of six FA/18 combat aircraft, a Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft, a KC-30A Multi Role Tanker, and 200 SAS soldiers who will serve not only in training and advisory roles, but also in forward targeting missions.  This comes despite much concern in the community, including those with significant experience and expertise in security matters, about the many critical questions in relation to this deployment that remain unanswered.   As it was in 2003, Parliament remains marginalised on the most grave decision a Government can make.  While our ADF personnel are sent into harm’s way, there is no parliamentary debate, and no opportunity to seek clarity about their role, the risks to them and non-combatants in the region, the prospects for success however defined, and – just as importantly - about alternatives to military action. 

Contrary to Government assertions, this practice has not stood us in good stead historically; it has facilitated Australia’s involvement in some disastrous wars, as it did previousy in Iraq only 11 years ago. We appear to have learnt nothing.

Having regard to the emerging practice at Westminster since 2003 of debating and authorising UK deployments in the House of Commons, the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry (including the revision of the exercise of the War Powers) seeks your opinion on this issue, and we ask you to respond to the following question:

It is not currently required that Parliament be consulted before Australian troops are sent into armed conflict abroad.  Do you believe Parliament’s approval of such decisions should be required?

B=Yes, unless immediate danger to Australia

All responses (or lack thereof) will be displayed on the CIWI website. There will also be the results of a public opinion poll on this question, which is being conducted simultaneously.

Please return this letter with your response in the enclosed envelope, to reach us by no later than Friday October 17.

With many thanks for your attention to this matter
Yours sincerely

Paul Barratt AO
Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry