Crikey Clarifier

Apr 17, 2018

What’s to stop Turnbull sending us to war?

If you're worried about the flaws in the system that stops Donald Trump launching a war, we've got bad news about Australia.

Charlie Lewis — Journalist

Charlie Lewis


Last week we looked at the system of checks and balances that stops (or fails to stop) the US president from sending the country to war without authorisation. But before we get too smug, it's worth bearing in mind our system is demonstrably worse.

What are the rules in Australia as they stand?

"In Australia, there is no such check," Clinton Fernandes, professor of international and political studies at the University of New South Wales told Crikey. "The executive can send us to war with no oversight."

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Leave a comment

6 thoughts on “What’s to stop Turnbull sending us to war?

  1. Smit

    Armed forces get upset if there is not the occasional war.

  2. Charlie Chaplin

    “…people forget, but at the time, Australia’s involvement in Vietnam was very popular.”
    They do indeed: Yellow Peril, Domino Theory and all that.

    Now we have different justifications for war: R2P, Humanitarian Intervention, Axis of Evil and all that. Doesn’t decrease the body count much, but it sounds much nicer.

  3. AR

    During the break up of Yugoslavia some unpleasant newspeak terms became common, ethnic cleansing (so fresh, so sparkling..!)being the standout.
    My favourite though, was “humanitarian bombing campaign”.
    It had it all, evil, futility and tenacity.

    1. Charlie Chaplin

      All the bombs had smiley faces. They dropped conversation lollies- those heart shaped ones that say “I love you” or “Be mine”.

      I remember the break up of Yugoslavia very well, AR. I think of it as the test run, now. I’m not sure how much of my memory is strictly accurate and how much comes from the film, “Wag the Dog”.

  4. Martin

    It’s a worry that the checks and balances are worse here, which is probably so that Australia is not inhibited in any way should the request to join the war come from Washington.

  5. Marion Wilson

    It’s many years since I checked the Constitution for the exact wording of this but I believe that the Governor General is head of the armed forces and he/she acts on, and only on, the direction/advice of the Parliament. Thus the nation may not go to war without the Parliament’s majority vote of approval to advise/request the GG to thus direct the armed forces.

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