69 prominent Australians have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling for a full parliamentary debate and vote before any new commitment to fighting overseas wars.
The letter is signed by several high-profile Australians including former Liberal leader John Hewson, former Labor minister Melissa Parke and the Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore.
It also includes many historians and multiple ex diplomats including Richard Butler AC, former Ambassador to the United Nations.
The call follows several irresponsible comments about a potential war over Taiwan by Peter Dutton, Mike Pezzullo and some media pundits.
The full letter, published by is below.
Open letter to the Prime Minister of Australia
With multiple military and defence commentators offering increasingly bleak assessments of the possibility of armed conflict, now is the time to carefully consider Australia’s position.
Australian military forces are to be withdrawn from the 20-year conflict in Afghanistan that produced indifferent results at great cost. Repeating the experience now with another such deployment is neither rational nor necessary.
A major war today would be very different from past wars. Today a single weapon can cause massive destruction of life and property and permanent contamination of the environment. No current threat to Australia justifies taking such a risk.
The human and financial costs involved in deploying troops overseas are immense and require sound decision making and clear, realistic goals.
In the past these life and death decisions have been made without reference to the views and wisdom of the wider community as expressed by its representatives in Parliament.
The way in which governments decided on military interventions in the past will not do for the future.
If a new proposed deployment becomes a reality, the reasons for it should be fully disclosed before any decision is taken by the Prime Minister and the executive.
The stakes are too high for another ill-judged decision by the Prime Minister alone, as we saw with Iraq and Afghanistan.
Australia should not automatically follow U.S. foreign policy priorities.
Our defence and foreign policies should be fully independent and based on our own best interests.
To ensure this, the House of Representatives and the Senate must have a considered debate followed by a vote on any proposed involvement by Australia in another overseas war.
Dr Chris Aulich; Retired Professor of Public Administration, University of Canberra
Greg Barns SC; Former National President, Australian Lawyers Alliance
The Honourable Emeritus Professor Peter Baume AC DistFRSN
Andrew Bartlett; Former Senator
Allan Behm; Director, International & Security Affairs program, The Australia Institute
Professor Frank Bongiorno AM
Susan Biggs; Sydney Peace Foundation
Dr Alison Broinowski AM; Former diplomat
Richard Broinowski AO; Former diplomat
Dr David Brophy; Senior Lecturer in Modern Chinese History, University of Sydney
Dr Scott Burchill; Senior Lecturer Deakin University
Richard Butler AC; Former Ambassador to the United Nations, Chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq
Helen Caldicott; Founding President, Physicians for Social Responsibility, 1985 Nobel Peace Prize
Emeritus Professor Joseph A. Camilleri OAM; La Trobe University
Dr Susan Carland; Monash University
Dr Eileen Chanin; Author
Joe Collins; Australia West Papua Association
Paul Daley; Author and journalist
Professor Phillip Deery; Historian
Andrew Farran; Former diplomat, law academic and currently company director
Professor Raelene Frances AM; Dean and professor of history, ANU
Bill Gammage; Humanities Research Centre, ANU
Sam Gazal; Company Director
Bruce Haigh; Former diplomat and political commentator
Michael Hamel-Green; Emeritus Professor, College of Arts & Education, Victoria University
Professor John Hewson; ANU
Dr Marianne Hanson DPhil Oxon; Associate Professor of International Relations, University of Queensland
John Hughes (PhD. FAHA); Filmmaker, Adjunct Professor RMIT
Brendon Kelson; Director, Australian War Memorial, 1990-1994
Tony Kevin; Author and former senior Australian diplomat
Dr Julie Kimber; Senior lecturer, Swinburne University
Dr Kristine Klugman OAM; President Civil Liberties Australia
Mary Kostakidis; Journalist
Professor Marilyn Lake AO, FAHA, FASSA; Professorial Fellow in History, University of Melbourne
Antony Loewenstein; Independent journalist, author and film-maker
Ian Lincoln; Former diplomat
Scott Ludlam; Former Senator
Gavin McCormack; Emeritus Professor ANU
Dr Michael McKinley; International relations expert
Dr Ross McMullin; Historian and biographer
John Menadue AO; Publisher
Kellie Merritt; Widow of Flight Lt Paul Pardoel, killed in Iraq
Rachel Miller; Author
Geoff Miller AO; Former Australian diplomat
Professor Rob Moodie AM; School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne
Clover Moore; Lord Mayor of Sydney
Douglas Newton; Historian
Tim O’Connor; Amnesty International Australia
Sally O’Neill; Historical Researcher, Australian Dictionary of Biography, ANU, retired
Bob O’Neill; Professor of Strategic and Defence Studies Emeritus, ANU
Tony Palfreeman; International relations expert
Melissa Parke; Former Minister for International Development
The Hon. M. A. Pembroke
Dr Carolyn Rasmussen; Historian and biographer
Professor Henry Reynolds; Historian
Dr Jamal Rifi AO; Muslim community leader and GP
Henry Rosenbloom; Publisher, Scribe Publications
Tilman Ruff AO; Co-President, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Founding Chair, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
Professor Charles Sampford, DPhil Oxon; Barrister at Law, Foundation Dean of Law and Director, Institute for Ethics, Governance and Law
Professor Ben Saul; Challis Chair of International Law, University of Sydney
Professor Bruce Scates; Professor of History, ANU
Professor Peter Stanley, FAHA; UNSW Canberra
Professor Richard Tanter; School of Political and Social Science, University of Melbourne
Kellie Tranter; Lawyer and human rights activist
Robert Tickner AO; Ambassador for ICAN Australia (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons), Former Government Minister
Peter Timmins; Australian Press Council Press Freedom Medal 2017
Noel Turnbull; Honorary Doctor of Communication RMIT University
Dr Sue Wareham OAM; President, Medical Association for Prevention of War
Ernst Willheim; Visiting Fellow ANU College of Law
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