Monthly Archives: August 2017

How does Australia decide to go to war – should the Parliament decide?

Speaker : Ernst Wilheim

Tuesday, 19 September – 5.30 for 6pm start. Finishes 7.30.

Venue: Manning Clark House, 11 Tasmania Circle, Forrest.

$5 for MCH members, government income support and full-time students, $10 non-members

CLICK HERE TO BOOK

The decision to go to war is arguably the most important decision any government can make. Yet it is the least regulated of any government decision.

We have all observed the many hours of parliamentary debate and back room negotiation on controversial legislation. Yet Australia can be taken to war on the whim of our Prime Minister.

How can this be?

Lawyers refer to ‘the Royal prerogative’ to go to war.

Is the Royal prerogative the relic of a bygone era? Is it consistent with contemporary values, with the modern perception of the role of the Parliament and the ultimate sovereignty of the people?  How do similar countries deal with the decision to go to the war? What are the alternatives? Is a requirement for prior parliamentary approval feasible? These are some of the issues to be explored.

Ernst Willheim is a Visiting fellow at the College of Law, ANU. Before his formal retirement he was a senior officer of the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department. In that capacity, he has appeared as counsel in the High Court and other appellate courts, lead Australian delegations to international conferences, established and headed the Office of General Counsel and headed other legal policy divisions. Ernst has published widely on public law matters, constitutional law, administrative law, international law, refugee issues and indigenous issues. Ernst is Vice President of Manning Clark House.