The Australian Greens used the Afghanistan war debate today to strengthen their call for Parliament to be given the power to declare war.
The Greens believe the power to send Australian forces to war should rest in the hands of Parliament," Senator Scott Ludlam told the Senate today. "The former Government's reckless and indefinite commitment to an unwinnable war in Afghanistan is a stark reminder of the need for Parliament, as the body in which the will of the people is invested, to decide upon the deployment of the nation's defence forces."
The Greens' legal affairs spokesperson used comments from the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition to support The Greens' push for more democratic decision making on war.
"The Prime Minister said she believes this debate is ‘an important one for our people and our Parliament' and that ‘our highest duty is to make wise decisions about war'," he said. "The Leader of the Opposition said ‘something as grave as a serious military campaign should be justified to the Parliament'. This justification should take place before the campaign begins, rather than nine years after the fact."
Senator Ludlam said the decision to support the invasion of Iraq was, to the best of his knowledge, made by only 17 people - a situation that must not be repeated.
"There was no debate, no discussion and certainly no vote," he said. "Never again should the executive be able to unilaterally commit this country to war."
The Senator said the United Kingdom was on the brink of adopting similar changes and the US Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war. He added that a large number of other democratic countries around the world require parliamentary approval for declarations of war.
Senator Ludlam said non-military aid would do more to assist the Afghan people than an ongoing military intervention. He was critical of the high civilian death toll and the Karzai Government's alleged corruption and vote rigging.
"The ongoing presence of foreign armed forces in Afghanistan acts as a provocation for recruitment to insurgent forces... Only a legitimate Afghan government - which draws its legitimacy from the mandate of its people - could successfully put an end to the fighting in Afghanistan."