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Letter in Support of Joint Statutory Committee on Defence, Urges Principles to be Adopted

Australian Quakers have sent letters to the Minister for Defence and Minister for Foreign Affairs, signed by our Presiding Clerk Bruce Henry, in support of the Joint Statutory Committee on Defence. The letter also urges for a series of principles to be adopted.

The letter to Minister for Defence, Richard Marles, begins:

Dear Richard Marles, 

I write on behalf of Australian Quakers about the role of Parliament in overseeing defence and national security. We have noted the report of the Inquiry into international armed conflict decision making, undertaken by the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (tabled 31 March 2023) and your media release (8 August 2023) in response to the recommendations of that report.   

We are disappointed that the recommendations re-affirmed that decisions regarding armed conflict remain the prerogative of the Executive, despite considerable concern that Parliament should have a more primary role. Our view is that decisions on defence and national security warrant greater scrutiny and associated authority by Parliament.  

Nevertheless, we are pleased that the report did recommend greater transparency and accountability of such decisions, and more timely opportunities to keep Parliament informed of crisis situations and possible responses, and more debates on these issues. We appreciate that your media release makes clear the government’s acceptance of this approach. 

We support the proposal to create a new committee in the Parliament, named the Joint Statutory Committee on Defence, able to receive classified information about defence strategy and operations,  and improve oversight by the Parliament. We agree that it should be separate from the Intelligence and Security Committee, so as to give attention to broader defence policy matters. We agree that the committee be able to meet with ministers and other officials when necessary.   

We urge the government to ensure that, in creating this Defence committee, the following principles are adopted. . . 

Read the full text of the letter HERE.

Last modified: 
Tuesday, 5 September 2023 - 4:27pm