Dear Hon Christian Porter MP,

Posted on 22 July 2018

The Defence Amendment (Call Out of the Australian Defence Force) Bill 2018 gives the federal government greater power to use the Australian military (ADF) in the control of its own citizens. This includes the use of lethal force, by which is meant the killing of those citizens.

Your purported reason for this was to support state police in the case of a Lindt Café-style siege. That siege involved one man holding ten customers and eight employees hostage in 2014. Gun person Man Haron Monis killed one hostage, the police killed Monis and accidentally killed another hostage. Police have been criticised for the lack of negotiation during the siege. Hostage Marcia Mikhael called radio station 2GB during the siege and said “They have not negotiated, they’ve done nothing. They have left us here to die.”

In that siege would military presence have actually resolved the issue? Why use that event as reason now for a new extension of miltary powers given to the federal government? Why does the federal government feel it needs to be able to send the miltary with threat of death when dealing with the Australian public?

The bill speaks about being prepared for the sort of violence that has not happened in this country. It states that the ADF who is being used under a call out order must not use force in such a way that is likely to cause the death of, or grievous bodily harm to, a person, EXCEPT where the member believes on “reasonable grounds” that using such force is: necessary to protect declared infrastructure against the domestic violence or threat specified in the order, or when taking measures against an aircraft or vessel (up to and including destroying that aircraft or vessel) or, “reasonable and necessary” for the purposes of giving effect to the order under the authority of which the member is acting.

According to the United Nations Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, Article 3: “The use of firearms is considered an extreme measure. Every effort should be made to exclude the use of firearms, especially against children. In general, firearms should not be used except when a suspected offender offers armed resistance or otherwise jeopardizes the lives of others and less extreme measures are not sufficient to restrain or apprehend the suspected offender. In every instance in which a firearm is discharged, a report should be made promptly to the competent authorities.” Your bill steps over this line in order to protect inanimate objects of war.

What are you preparing for that you feel you need to give yourselves the ability to protect military vessels by killing Australians? Does this have anything to do with Federal spending of $35 billion per year or equivalently about $95 million per day on the miltary and promising support to any US military action?

Are you getting nervous because you have given $65 billion in corporate tax cuts, while making welfare assistance harder to access and more punitive in nature, in order to save money by worsening the lives of those suffering in poverty?

The Defence Amendment (Call Out of the Australian Defence Force) Bill 2018 is unnecessary and raises many questions about the motives of our current government. We Australians are anxious that you will make use of this Bill in order to curb nonviolent protest, when we are concerned that people are being mistreated or our common future is being endangered through environmental devastation. Who decides what is “reasonable and necessary” and how when it comes to sending forces against our citizens? Perhaps one minister with an axe to grind? That is indeed a terrifying thought.

Withdraw The Defence Amendment Bill. It does nothing to make Australia a more secure country.

Thank you.

Regards,

Katherine Phelps
BA (Hons), MFA, PhD


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