Bill to force vote on war defeated

The Senate has shot down an Australian Greens attempt to have parliament approve the deployment of Australian troops to overseas conflicts.


Only two other senators – independent Nick Xenophon and Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm – supported the 10 Greens.

Coalition, Labor, Palmer United Party and other crossbench senators voted down a private bill proposed by Greens leader Christine Milne.

Senator Milne had argued parliament should have the right to ask about the objectives and likelihood of success of any overseas mission.

“They’re legitimate questions before you send young men and women into harm’s way and before you see a plane being shot down or coffins coming back to Australia,” she told parliament on Thursday.

“We need to know why it’s in the national interest.”

The vote comes in the week Australia joined an international mission in northern Iraq, airlifting humanitarian aid and military equipment to Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State insurgents.

Opposition defence spokesman Stephen Conroy said while there should be debate in parliament about military missions, the Milne bill was “fraught with danger”.

Classified information was imperative to make military decisions and should not be released to the parliament, he said.

“It is simply not safe, appropriate or practical.”

Senator Milne’s bill is nearly identical to a Greens bill the Senate rejected in 2008.

It’s also similar to legislation proposed by the Australian Democrats several years ago.

The government argued flaws identified in those bills by parliamentary committees were contained in the Milne legislation.