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Parliament and National Security: Challenges and opportunities

By Anthony Bergin

While not new, in recent years the debate about the role of the Parliament in matters of national security has become increasingly lively. Many parliamentarians are demonstrating greater enthusiasm for extending Parliament’s influence in the realm of foreign affairs, intelligence, defence and national security.

Some now argue that a decision by the Prime Minister to go to war should be subject to a veto by a majority vote of both houses of federal Parliament. 

When we face unprecedented national security challenges, it's critical the public have confidence in the capacity of our politicians to effectively meet those challenges. It's timely, therefore, to consider how Parliament should best play a vigorous role in providing the robust checks and balances in national security policy necessary for the health of our democracy. 

Dr Bergin’s Senate Occasional Lecture lecture  examines differing perspectives within this debate, considers the role of parliamentary committees and examines the possible exercise of war powers by Parliament. 

The lecture outlines recommendations for enhancing Parliament’s role in national security to reinforce executive accountability, expand public access to national security policy process, improve the quality of the national security public debate and strengthen our democratic foundations. 

The official transcript of Dr Bergin's talk can be found here  

Originally published by: APH Senate site on 07 Jul 2017