8 August 2023
The defence of Australia, its people and its interests is a government’s most important responsibility. Australians should be assured that their Parliament has an important role in debating matters of national importance, including Australia’s involvement in international armed conflict.
The most consequential decision for a government is to deploy the Australian Defence Force into an international armed conflict and is never taken lightly.
The Albanese Government has today released its response to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade’s inquiry into international armed conflict decision making.
The response agrees, agrees-in-principle or broadly agrees with the report’s seven recommendations.
The Government welcomes the principal finding that decisions regarding armed conflict are fundamentally a prerogative of the Executive.
The Government also reaffirms its commitment to improving openness and accountability, and ensuring Parliament has effective mechanisms to examine and debate such decisions.
In recognition of this and balancing transparency with timely decision-making, the Government has agreed to codify practices relating to informing the Parliament about these decisions.
Notably the Government has:
- Agreed to the establishment of a new Joint Statutory Committee on Defence, with further work to be undertaken to determine implementation details.
- Agreed that a Ministerial statement be given in both Houses of Parliament to inform a timely debate on the decision by the Executive to engage in major military operations as a party to an armed conflict.
- Agreed that debate in both Houses of Parliament should occur at the earliest opportunity.
Quotes attributable to Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Richard Marles MP:
“Sending our Defence Force personnel into international armed conflict is the most consequential decision a government can make and is never taken lightly.
“This report and the Government’s response rightly affirms that this remains a decision for the Executive, but that it is important that Parliament has effective mechanisms to examine and debate such decisions.”
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