Appleby, Gabrielle: what say do our elected representatives have in going to war?

Appleby, Gabrielle

What say do our elected representatives have in going to war?The Conversation, 10 December 2015 updated

The authorisation of military force is one of the most serious and consequential powers that governments possess. This power should be exercised with appropriate caution and, where circumstances allow, considered deliberation. Governments should be publicly accountable for its exercise.

The article compares the position in the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia, explaining that the key driver in each case is practice and convention, rather than statute or constitution. In Australia, there is no constitutional requirement for the executive to consult the parliament before committing to war and the practice has fallen away of having a parliamentary debate after a decision to commit. Both major parties have gone along with this though there are signs this might be changing.

These issues are canvassed in the comments on the article, on the website of Australians for War Powers Reform or AWPR (including the booklet How Does Australia Go to War?) and here and here on the Honest History website. Also in November 2017 from John Keane. Honest History vice president Dr Alison Broinowski is a committee member of AWPR.

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