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Creative tension: Parliament and national security

By Anthony Bergin and Russell Trood

This paper argues that enhancing parliament’s role in national security will reinforce Executive accountability, improve the quality of public debate over national security and serve to strengthen the foundations of Australia’s parliamentary democracy.

There are several measures that would materially improve parliament’s role in the conduct of national security: 

  • enhance respect for parliament as the forum for consideration of national security issues by utilising the parliament’s existing procedures to more fully consider issues of foreign affairs, defence, intelligence and border security
  • develop parliamentarians’ education in national security by providing a new members’ orientation program focussed on national security
  • examine parliament’s exercise of war powers 
  • encourage parliamentary diplomacy 
  • a material improvement in parliament’s role demands more attention to increasing the human and financial resources available to key national security committees
  • undertake an examination of national security committee mandates, particularly in intelligence oversight