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Quakers in Australia

Quaker Peace and Legislation Committee

The Quaker Peace and Legislation Committee (QPLC) is based in Canberra. Its role is to lobby government and to encourage debate towards a more peaceful future for Australia and the world. QPLC releases regular Watching Briefs and Action Alerts to encourage others to lobby for a more peaceful world.

Freedom of Speech : Action Alert : March 2017

The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights has recently issued its report on an Inquiry into the operation of Part IIA of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 and related procedures under the Australian Human Rights Act 1986. The briefing paper summarises the main findings and suggests possible action to follow up the report. The full report is available at

Possible Action

Quakers may wish to take up with their own Federal MPs and Senators the ongoing concern to ensure that the legislation remains in place, and that the recommended changes to procedures be implemented so as to reduce the basis for further challenges to the whole process.

Social Defence : Watching Brief : February 2017

This report is in part a response to the increasing militarization of our world, and the well-entrenched assumption that military defence is the best way (and ultimately the only effective way) to prevent an attack from an outside invader or an internal insurgency. Many people now see the need to abolish war, yet find it hard to envision alternatives. Social Defence has been neglected as a viable option for defending a country or community. Details of its origins and potential are included to help readers identify where it is relevant to current debates on foreign and defence policy. Some further information is included about ways in which social defence approaches can link with other work to abolish war.

National Security Laws : Action Alert : Oct 2016

There are three pieces of legislation before Parliament – listed below. We support moves to restrict the trafficking of firearms. We are cautious about extending sentences beyond the normal limits without significant checks and balances. We are concerned to ensure that changing the definition of war crimes may lead to Australian forces engaging in areas where civilian casualties are more likely.

Independent And Peaceful Australia Network (Ipan) : Watching Brief : Oct 2016

This Brief provides a summary of IPAN’s aims and activities. Quakers are affiliated to IPAN through QPLC. Recently IPAN held its annual meeting in Alice Springs NT in conjunction with a protest gathering at Pine Gap Base to mark its 50th anniversary.

Nuclear Weapons Ban : Watching Brief : Sep 16

This Brief focusses on moves for a nuclear weapons ban, following stalemate in negotiations towards nuclear disarmament. It highlights the ambivalent position of Australian Governments in responding to such moves because of their reliance on the ‘nuclear umbrella’ provided by the USA.

Gun Control In Australia : Action Alert : July 2016

Given recent publicity about gun violence in the USA, this briefing paper focusses on what has been happening in Australia. It draws attention to the review of the National Firearms Agreement and offers suggestions for points that can be taken up with Federal and State/Territory leaders.

South China Sea : Watching Brief : April 2016

Background Paper by Quaker David Rosenberg (Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Middlebury College, Vermont USA, and Visiting Fellow at ANU, Canberra).
The war of words between the United States and China over who is militarizing the South China Sea is heating up in advance of a United Nations court ruling on the validity of China’s nine-dash line claim to the sea. The Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague in The Netherlands is expected to issue its ruling in the case of The Philippines v. China before June 2016. This will be the first time that any international tribunal will rule on the validity of China’s territorial claims to nearly the entire South China Sea.

Federal Election 2016 : Action Alert: June 2016

QPLC offers some questions that might be put to candidates in the current Federal Election campaign on issues relating to peace.
  • Refugee Policies
  • Nuclear Weapons
  • Capital Punishment
  • War Powers
  • Overseas Aid
  • Development
  • Women and Peace
  • Foreign Policy
  • Defence
  • Anzac
  • United Nations
  • Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)
  • People to People Links
  • South China Sea
  • West Papua
  • Sri Lanka
  • Trade Deals
  • Violence
  • Restorative Practices
  • Children In Refugee Detention : Action Alert : April 2016

    This Alert refers to recent moves to have children removed from detention centres, and to legislation amended by the Senate to support such moves. It includes details of international standards and expectations, and suggests action by Friends to act on their concerns

    Conscientious Objection : Watching Brief : April 2016

    This paper is intended to sum up the history and current thinking among Quakers on this issue. It draws on various analyses especially from the Quaker United Nations Office and Britain Yearly Meeting. It focuses on objections to military service and to paying for war, and alternative options. It ends with questions for consideration and feedback.

    Crime And Punishment : Watching Brief : April 2016

    The trends in crime and the responses to it are the focus of this brief. It includes recent statistics and analysis, and comments on various types of approach to preventing crime and enhancing social cohesion. It also mentions the history of the Quaker approach to prisons.

    Defence White Paper: Watching Brief— March 2016

    Over the years many Defence White Papers have been delivered outlining plans for Australian defence. Their tone has varied from bland to alarmist depending largely on the political environment at the time as assessed by the party in power. Usually the preparation of these Papers has involved some element of public consultation.
    QPLC has put forward submissions on several occasions about defence policies, and has made the following points: (a) defence policy should be part of a comprehensive set of policies that identify risks arising from political, economic, ecological and other sources, and set up ways to minimize those risks; (b) ecological degradation and economic crises are more of a threat to Australia than military ones; (c) defence policies should be ensure that women are seen as equal partners in the development of inclusive security policies that lead to conflict prevention and the building of peace; (d) the defence forces has a significant role in providing humanitarian and disaster relief and as part of international policing under the UN; (e) reliance on the US military strategy limits our capacity for independent policies; and (f) more resources should be put into prevention through diplomatic and aid policies.

    Update on the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Action Alert—Oct 2015

    The Minister for Trade Andrew Robb announced earlier this month that the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement ‘will deliver enormous benefits to Australia’.
    Friends might consider taking up with politicians the following points:
    • The risks to various progressive policies in Australia to protect standards in health, environment, pharmaceuticals, and intellectual property.
    • The dangers of assuming that free trade agreements are always the best way to advance the interests of people in the countries involved.
    • The potential for TPP to tip the balance in favour of large corporations and against workers, farmers, environmentalists, artists, and others.
    • The special clauses that have been inserted to protect Australia’s interests

    Australian Border Force: Watching Brief—Sept 2015

    The Australian Border Force (ABF) was formed on 1 July 2015 as a result of the integration of the functions of the Department of Immigration & Border Protection and the Australian Customs & Border Protection Service. It brings together the operational, investigative, compliance, detention and enforcement functions of the two agencies.
    The emergence of the ABF signals a trend towards more paramilitary-style approaches in a range of government agencies. QPLC will keep Friends informed on this matter, and welcomes feedback on action taken at a regional or local level to raise public awareness.

    Refugees and war in Syria/Iraq: Action Alert —Sept 2015

    This report gives the Prime Minister’s statement on refugees from the war, and the decision to extend bombing into Syria. It also includes the responses of the Opposition and Greens. It concludes with a letter from the AYM Presiding Clerk to the Prime Minister.

    United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Watching Brief—August 2015

    The Sustainable Development Summit in New York City, 25-27 September 2015, is expected to adopt the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the period ending 2030. The SDGs will replace the Millennium Development Goals which reached their use-by dates this year.
    QPLC encourages Friends to become familiar with the SDGs and consider how their Meeting could contribute toward reaching some of the goals within their local communities or even more widely.
    What follows is a QPLC resource to assist Friends in commencing such discussions within their Meetings.

    The United Nations at 70: Watching Brief—August 2015

    This report contains notes based on a recent conference about the United Nations and its Future, hosted by the United Nations of Australia (UNAA) and held at the Australian National University in Canberra. It also includes some recent reflections from the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO). The ongoing active role of Quakers within the UN system is part of the expression of the peace testimony ‘to take away the occasion of war’.

    Anzac Conversations - Lessons Learnt

    The Quaker Peace & Legislation Committee (QPLC) held a series of four public meetings during 2015 on the theme: Anzac Conversations.
    With the support of a grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs, QPLC sought to offer a range of different perspectives on war and peace during a year when much focus has been on Australia’s involvement in the First World War and on commemorating military sacrifice. Our approach was to look at different themes that might bring out a more complete picture of how war has affected so many people, and on the efforts to prevent and replace it.
    The sessions took as an overall theme ‘Lessons Learned’, and the specific topics for the sessions were (a) Forgotten Voices, (b) Artistic Voices, (c) Voices of those who gave military service, and (d) Citizen voices for peace. In this way we gave opportunities for sharing by speakers from military, scholarly, artistic, religious and peace activist backgrounds, and for those attending to engage in discussion about the lessons learned. The meetings have attracted between 25 and 40 Quakers and others and led to some lively interactions about the impact of war on people of all walks of life, the often hidden or delayed effect of war trauma on soldiers and families, the social divisions caused by Australia’s participation in wars, and the attempts by Quakers and others to provide alternative narratives to challenge the drift towards war. At the first session it was also a great help to show the ten panels prepared by NSW Friends for their exhibition about WW1 and the efforts of the peace movement to end it.
    QPLC has issued detailed reports on each session, and these are collected here on the Quaker website.
    Our intention is now to complete the project by preparing a suitable publication (in print and on-line) so as to distribute more widely the material collected from the various speakers. From my experience, the project has kept alive in a public setting the commitment of Quakers to finding alternative ways to express our peace testimony and to engage with others about what needs to be done to prevent future wars. Feedback from those who have attended has reinforced the view that we have offered an environment of listening and learning about the serious challenges that face humanity from the tendency to resort to military solutions.

    David Purnell

    China-Australia Free Trade Agreement: Action Alert—July 2015
    This Action Alert gives a brief outline of the Agreement signed by the two governments in June 2015, some commentary on its implications, and the process of examination of it by two Parliamentary Committees.

    Australian citizenship: Action Alert—Jun15

    The Australian Government has launched a national conversation about Australian citizenship. The proposed changes to the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 would create the greatest changes to the Act since 1949. Under consideration is the possible suspension or revocation of citizenship for people who are involved in ‘terrorist activity’. Comments are due 30 June 2015. QPLC is preparing a submission and Friends are also encouraged to respond.

    Immigration Detention Centres: Action Alert—Jun15

    The Australian Government has introduced legislation to Parliament under the title Migration Amendment (Maintaining Good Order of Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill. The legislation passed the House of Representatives and went on to the Senate in March, to be considered by the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee. This paper provides points that could be covered in any lobbying.

    ANZUS, China and Australia: Watching Brief -- Jun 15

    Recently there has been discussion about the extent to which Australia’s role in ANZUS affects our relationship with China. This WB seeks to place the issue in context and to raise questions for Friends to consider when pursuing concerns about Australian defence and foreign policies.

    Watching Brief: Anzac Conversations: Lessons learned—May 2015

    A report on the first of a series of Anzac Conversations held at the Canberra Meeting House, initiated by QPLC and supported by a grant from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, in 2015.

    Action Alert: Immigration detention centres—May 2015

    The Government has introduced legislation to Parliament under the title Migration Amendment (Maintaining Good Order of Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill. The legislation passed the House of Representatives and went on to the Senate in March, to be considered by the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee. Their response is due by 5 June 2015. QPLC has listed points for lobbying against the Bill.

    Watching Brief: North Korea’s humanitarian crisis—March 2015

    The people of North Korea continue to face grinding poverty, with serious consequences for their health, development, and education. This paper reviews the humanitarian challenges, compare international responses, and suggests policy options for Australia and advocacy opportunities for Friends.

    Watching Brief: A new era for Sri Lanka--March 2015

    On 9 January 2015 a Presidential election in Sri Lanka led to an unexpected change of leader. Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had dominated the country in recent years, lost the election to his former Minister for Health, Maithripala Sirisena, thanks to a coalition of opposition groupings and strong voting support from the ethnic minorities. The paper updates the situation.

    Watching Brief: Quakers and the death penalty--March 2015

    The trauma of recent events in Indonesia involving two Australian drug traffickers has drawn attention once again to the use of capital punishment as a legal sanction for serious crimes. This briefing paper gives an up-to-date picture of progress towards the elimination of the death penalty around the world.

    Watching Brief: Australia and the UN Security Council--March 2015

    Australia’s membership of the United Nations Security Council ended on 31 December 2014 after two years as a non-permanent elected member. This Brief gives an overview of what Australia contributed to the international organisation during that time.

    Action Alert: Trans-Pacific Partnership--February 2015

    Negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership are proceeding largely in secret among the twelve nations involved, and this Action Alert is to give Friends basic details upon which representations can be made to the Minister for Trade, Andrew Robb MP and other parliamentarians.

    Watching Brief: Making peace in extreme conflicts--November 2014

    This summary of recent writings on peacemaking attempts to support Friends’ peace concerns, and bring a greater focus on ‘taking away the occasion of war’. It may also help Friends in conversations with others about current trends.

    Watching Brief: Forced migration--November 2014

    This summary of the report on a high level Roundtable called Beyond the Boats: building an asylum and refugee policy for the long term covers the background to, participation in, and outcomes of the Roundtable, and some questions for Friends to consider.

    Defence White Paper 2015: Submission--28.10.14

    The Australian Defence Force (ADF) should operate within an integrated and independent foreign policy set by the civil power. The following are features that we would like to see applied:
    • Parliament’s approval for the engagement of the ADF in war-fighting overseas.
    • Priority given to involvements that are authorised by the United Nations and involve peacekeeping, peacemaking and peace building.
    • No conscription to the armed forces, and no recruitment of people under 18.
    • Greater participation of women in decision-making roles within the ADF.
    • Phased withdrawal of ADF from border protection, and replacement by a coastguard.
    • Increased emphasis on skills of mediation and negotiation in ADF training.
    • More resources to assist those returning from war zones, and their families.

    Submission on Counter-Terrorism (Foreign Fighters) Legislation--20.10.14

    Acts of terror are unacceptable in our world, and everyone has a responsibility to reject a violent approach to life. The Government can assist best through an integrated approach, with policies that focus on removing the causes of terrorism, protecting citizens, pursuing offenders, and assisting people to work together against any attack. The proposed legislation appears to be an overreaction to recent events in Iraq and Syria and their impact within Australia.
    Our view is that the Foreign Fighters Bill is not required, and poses significant risks to freedom of individuals. It also has the potential to cause further divisions in the Australian community.

    Action Alert: Australia and Iraq War--29.9.14

    Australia is becoming involved again in a military way in the Middle East. This poses a challenge to the longstanding Quaker commitment to ‘taking away the occasion of war’. What can we do to make known our concerns in a context of considerable public outrage about the behaviour of the extremist groups in Iraq and Syria? This Alert gives background information and questions to assist Friends in responding in discussion with others, in public statements, and in contact with politicians and bureaucrats.

    Discussion Paper: Australia and Refugees-- 5.9.2014

    Quakers have become increasingly alarmed at the policies of the Australian Government about refugees and asylum seekers, especially those who arrive unauthorised by boat. The current public debate has become very polarised and adversarial, and there is ambivalence in public attitudes alongside a hardening of policies and procedures for responding to boat arrivals. This Paper attempts to put the situation in historical context, to summarise commentary on current and possible future approaches, and to suggest questions for discussion.

    Request not to commit Australia to military operations in Iraq & Syria. 5.9.2014

    Letter sent to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, 2 September 2014
    Australian Quakers urge you and the Government to resist any request for military involvement in the tragic events in Iraq and Syria. The humanitarian impact of the crisis there needs to be a priority, and we applaud action taken by Australia to contribute in that way.

    UN High Commissioner for Human Rights thanked for service. 5.9.2014

    Letter sent to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay
    On behalf of Australian Quakers I write to thank you for the commitment, independence and resilience you have shown during your time as UN Commissioner for Human Rights. We believe you have raised the profile of the Office and given encouragement to many who have been suffering from abuses of their human rights and dignity.

    Watching Brief: Pine Gap Base--August 2014

    It is some years since public attention was focused on Pine Gap Base in central Australia. In this Brief, Friends will be reminded of the history and recent activities at this military base, and offered some ideas about possible action, and offered some ideas about possible action

    Action Alert: Joint Strike Fighter Jets--August 2014

    Australia has decided to purchase F-35A aircraft for the defence forces. As part of preparing the way for these planes, a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was prepared and released in July.

    Whilst it seems to be too late to change the decision to purchase the planes, there may be opportunities for Friends to make it known that they are concerned about the environmental implications.

    Access full paper here

    Watching Brief: War Powers--August 2014

    On 17 July 2014 Senator Scott Ludlam (Australian Greens) reintroduced into Parliament the Defence Amendment (Parliamentary Approval of Overseas Service) Bill 2014 'to ensure that the decision to deploy members of the Australian Defence Force be made not by the executive alone but by parliament as a whole.' Australian Quakers can follow the progress of the Bill by reference to the Parliament website www.aph.gov.au.

    Access full paper here.

    Watching Brief: Japan's Constitution--July 2014

    The visit of Shinzo Abe, Japanese Prime Minister, to Australia recently highlighted the moves he has made to reinterpret the ‘peace’ clause of the Japanese Constitution to allow more freedom to participate on military activities beyond its borders. This has generated considerable alarm in the region. This Watching Brief gives background details and some points for consideration among Friends.

    Watching Brief: Defence White Paper 2015--July 2014

    The Federal Government has plans to develop a Defence White Paper for 2015, and has appointed an Expert Panel to begin the process.
    The intention is that the White Paper will be a whole-of-government product and that the Expert Panel with “engage with experts in Australia and abroad, within government and industry, the think-tank community, State and Territory and local governments and with the Australian people throughout the development of the White Paper”.
    The development of a White Paper for 2015 is an opportunity for Friends to consider what issues to raise, and QPLC invites feedback on the concerns Friends have, so that we can be prepared to make a further submission when that is invited by the Expert Panel.

    Action Alert: National Security Monitor--July 2014

    The Federal Government has decided to abolish the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor (INSLM) established by the previous government in 2010. Repeal legislation is currently before the Senate and is being reviewed by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee. It is due to report on 19 August 2014.
    The Monitor was put in place to provide a continuing review of anti-terrorism legislation. Bret Walker, the current holder of the position, has issued four reports, the latest of which appeared in April 2014. It covered such areas as the Defence Act Call Out Powers, Australians and Armed Conflicts Abroad, Foreign Evidence, and Passport Cancellation and Citizenship Issues.
    This is an opportunity for Friends who are so led to take up this concern with their Federal MPs and Senators, and to persuade them that, at the very least, the independent Monitor should retain a role in the review of legislation, and that the Parliament and Government should take more seriously the recommendations from that officer.

    Children In Refugee Detention : Action Alert : April 2016

    This Alert refers to recent moves to have children removed from detention centres, and to legislation amended by the Senate to support such moves. It includes details of international standards and expectations, and suggests action by Friends to act on their concerns

    Conscientious Objection : Watching Brief : April 2016

    This paper is intended to sum up the history and current thinking among Quakers on this issue. It draws on various analyses especially from the Quaker United Nations Office and Britain Yearly Meeting. It focuses on objections to military service and to paying for war, and alternative options. It ends with questions for consideration and feedback.

    Crime And Punishment : Watching Brief : April 2016

    The trends in crime and the responses to it are the focus of this brief. It includes recent statistics and analysis, and comments on various types of approach to preventing crime and enhancing social cohesion. It also mentions the history of the Quaker approach to prisons.

    Defence White Paper: Watching Brief— March 2016

    Over the years many Defence White Papers have been delivered outlining plans for Australian defence. Their tone has varied from bland to alarmist depending largely on the political environment at the time as assessed by the party in power. Usually the preparation of these Papers has involved some element of public consultation.
    QPLC has put forward submissions on several occasions about defence policies, and has made the following points: (a) defence policy should be part of a comprehensive set of policies that identify risks arising from political, economic, ecological and other sources, and set up ways to minimize those risks; (b) ecological degradation and economic crises are more of a threat to Australia than military ones; (c) defence policies should be ensure that women are seen as equal partners in the development of inclusive security policies that lead to conflict prevention and the building of peace; (d) the defence forces has a significant role in providing humanitarian and disaster relief and as part of international policing under the UN; (e) reliance on the US military strategy limits our capacity for independent policies; and (f) more resources should be put into prevention through diplomatic and aid policies.

    Update on the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Action Alert—Oct 2015

    The Minister for Trade Andrew Robb announced earlier this month that the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement ‘will deliver enormous benefits to Australia’.
    Friends might consider taking up with politicians the following points:
    • The risks to various progressive policies in Australia to protect standards in health, environment, pharmaceuticals, and intellectual property.
    • The dangers of assuming that free trade agreements are always the best way to advance the interests of people in the countries involved.
    • The potential for TPP to tip the balance in favour of large corporations and against workers, farmers, environmentalists, artists, and others.
    • The special clauses that have been inserted to protect Australia’s interests

    Australian Border Force: Watching Brief—Sept 2015

    The Australian Border Force (ABF) was formed on 1 July 2015 as a result of the integration of the functions of the Department of Immigration & Border Protection and the Australian Customs & Border Protection Service. It brings together the operational, investigative, compliance, detention and enforcement functions of the two agencies.
    The emergence of the ABF signals a trend towards more paramilitary-style approaches in a range of government agencies. QPLC will keep Friends informed on this matter, and welcomes feedback on action taken at a regional or local level to raise public awareness.

    Refugees and war in Syria/Iraq: Action Alert —Sept 2015

    This report gives the Prime Minister’s statement on refugees from the war, and the decision to extend bombing into Syria. It also includes the responses of the Opposition and Greens. It concludes with a letter from the AYM Presiding Clerk to the Prime Minister.

    United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Watching Brief—August 2015

    The Sustainable Development Summit in New York City, 25-27 September 2015, is expected to adopt the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the period ending 2030. The SDGs will replace the Millennium Development Goals which reached their use-by dates this year.
    QPLC encourages Friends to become familiar with the SDGs and consider how their Meeting could contribute toward reaching some of the goals within their local communities or even more widely.
    What follows is a QPLC resource to assist Friends in commencing such discussions within their Meetings.

    The United Nations at 70: Watching Brief—August 2015

    This report contains notes based on a recent conference about the United Nations and its Future, hosted by the United Nations of Australia (UNAA) and held at the Australian National University in Canberra. It also includes some recent reflections from the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO). The ongoing active role of Quakers within the UN system is part of the expression of the peace testimony ‘to take away the occasion of war’.

    Anzac Conversations - Lessons Learnt

    The Quaker Peace & Legislation Committee (QPLC) held a series of four public meetings during 2015 on the theme: Anzac Conversations.
    With the support of a grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs, QPLC sought to offer a range of different perspectives on war and peace during a year when much focus has been on Australia’s involvement in the First World War and on commemorating military sacrifice. Our approach was to look at different themes that might bring out a more complete picture of how war has affected so many people, and on the efforts to prevent and replace it.
    The sessions took as an overall theme ‘Lessons Learned’, and the specific topics for the sessions were (a) Forgotten Voices, (b) Artistic Voices, (c) Voices of those who gave military service, and (d) Citizen voices for peace. In this way we gave opportunities for sharing by speakers from military, scholarly, artistic, religious and peace activist backgrounds, and for those attending to engage in discussion about the lessons learned. The meetings have attracted between 25 and 40 Quakers and others and led to some lively interactions about the impact of war on people of all walks of life, the often hidden or delayed effect of war trauma on soldiers and families, the social divisions caused by Australia’s participation in wars, and the attempts by Quakers and others to provide alternative narratives to challenge the drift towards war. At the first session it was also a great help to show the ten panels prepared by NSW Friends for their exhibition about WW1 and the efforts of the peace movement to end it.
    QPLC has issued detailed reports on each session, and these are collected here on the Quaker website.
    Our intention is now to complete the project by preparing a suitable publication (in print and on-line) so as to distribute more widely the material collected from the various speakers. From my experience, the project has kept alive in a public setting the commitment of Quakers to finding alternative ways to express our peace testimony and to engage with others about what needs to be done to prevent future wars. Feedback from those who have attended has reinforced the view that we have offered an environment of listening and learning about the serious challenges that face humanity from the tendency to resort to military solutions.

    David Purnell

    China-Australia Free Trade Agreement: Action Alert—July 2015
    This Action Alert gives a brief outline of the Agreement signed by the two governments in June 2015, some commentary on its implications, and the process of examination of it by two Parliamentary Committees.

    Australian citizenship: Action Alert—Jun15

    The Australian Government has launched a national conversation about Australian citizenship. The proposed changes to the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 would create the greatest changes to the Act since 1949. Under consideration is the possible suspension or revocation of citizenship for people who are involved in ‘terrorist activity’. Comments are due 30 June 2015. QPLC is preparing a submission and Friends are also encouraged to respond.

    Immigration Detention Centres: Action Alert—Jun15

    The Australian Government has introduced legislation to Parliament under the title Migration Amendment (Maintaining Good Order of Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill. The legislation passed the House of Representatives and went on to the Senate in March, to be considered by the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee. This paper provides points that could be covered in any lobbying.

    ANZUS, China and Australia: Watching Brief -- Jun 15

    Recently there has been discussion about the extent to which Australia’s role in ANZUS affects our relationship with China. This WB seeks to place the issue in context and to raise questions for Friends to consider when pursuing concerns about Australian defence and foreign policies.

    Watching Brief: Anzac Conversations: Lessons learned—May 2015

    A report on the first of a series of Anzac Conversations held at the Canberra Meeting House, initiated by QPLC and supported by a grant from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, in 2015.

    Action Alert: Immigration detention centres—May 2015

    The Government has introduced legislation to Parliament under the title Migration Amendment (Maintaining Good Order of Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill. The legislation passed the House of Representatives and went on to the Senate in March, to be considered by the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee. Their response is due by 5 June 2015. QPLC has listed points for lobbying against the Bill.

    Watching Brief: North Korea’s humanitarian crisis—March 2015

    The people of North Korea continue to face grinding poverty, with serious consequences for their health, development, and education. This paper reviews the humanitarian challenges, compare international responses, and suggests policy options for Australia and advocacy opportunities for Friends.

    Watching Brief: A new era for Sri Lanka--March 2015

    On 9 January 2015 a Presidential election in Sri Lanka led to an unexpected change of leader. Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had dominated the country in recent years, lost the election to his former Minister for Health, Maithripala Sirisena, thanks to a coalition of opposition groupings and strong voting support from the ethnic minorities. The paper updates the situation.

    Watching Brief: Quakers and the death penalty--March 2015

    The trauma of recent events in Indonesia involving two Australian drug traffickers has drawn attention once again to the use of capital punishment as a legal sanction for serious crimes. This briefing paper gives an up-to-date picture of progress towards the elimination of the death penalty around the world.

    Watching Brief: Australia and the UN Security Council--March 2015

    Australia’s membership of the United Nations Security Council ended on 31 December 2014 after two years as a non-permanent elected member. This Brief gives an overview of what Australia contributed to the international organisation during that time.

    Action Alert: Trans-Pacific Partnership--February 2015

    Negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership are proceeding largely in secret among the twelve nations involved, and this Action Alert is to give Friends basic details upon which representations can be made to the Minister for Trade, Andrew Robb MP and other parliamentarians.

    Watching Brief: Making peace in extreme conflicts--November 2014

    This summary of recent writings on peacemaking attempts to support Friends’ peace concerns, and bring a greater focus on ‘taking away the occasion of war’. It may also help Friends in conversations with others about current trends.

    Watching Brief: Forced migration--November 2014

    This summary of the report on a high level Roundtable called Beyond the Boats: building an asylum and refugee policy for the long term covers the background to, participation in, and outcomes of the Roundtable, and some questions for Friends to consider.

    Defence White Paper 2015: Submission--28.10.14

    The Australian Defence Force (ADF) should operate within an integrated and independent foreign policy set by the civil power. The following are features that we would like to see applied:
    • Parliament’s approval for the engagement of the ADF in war-fighting overseas.
    • Priority given to involvements that are authorised by the United Nations and involve peacekeeping, peacemaking and peace building.
    • No conscription to the armed forces, and no recruitment of people under 18.
    • Greater participation of women in decision-making roles within the ADF.
    • Phased withdrawal of ADF from border protection, and replacement by a coastguard.
    • Increased emphasis on skills of mediation and negotiation in ADF training.
    • More resources to assist those returning from war zones, and their families.

    Submission on Counter-Terrorism (Foreign Fighters) Legislation--20.10.14

    Acts of terror are unacceptable in our world, and everyone has a responsibility to reject a violent approach to life. The Government can assist best through an integrated approach, with policies that focus on removing the causes of terrorism, protecting citizens, pursuing offenders, and assisting people to work together against any attack. The proposed legislation appears to be an overreaction to recent events in Iraq and Syria and their impact within Australia.
    Our view is that the Foreign Fighters Bill is not required, and poses significant risks to freedom of individuals. It also has the potential to cause further divisions in the Australian community.

    Action Alert: Australia and Iraq War--29.9.14

    Australia is becoming involved again in a military way in the Middle East. This poses a challenge to the longstanding Quaker commitment to ‘taking away the occasion of war’. What can we do to make known our concerns in a context of considerable public outrage about the behaviour of the extremist groups in Iraq and Syria? This Alert gives background information and questions to assist Friends in responding in discussion with others, in public statements, and in contact with politicians and bureaucrats.

    Discussion Paper: Australia and Refugees-- 5.9.2014

    Quakers have become increasingly alarmed at the policies of the Australian Government about refugees and asylum seekers, especially those who arrive unauthorised by boat. The current public debate has become very polarised and adversarial, and there is ambivalence in public attitudes alongside a hardening of policies and procedures for responding to boat arrivals. This Paper attempts to put the situation in historical context, to summarise commentary on current and possible future approaches, and to suggest questions for discussion.

    Request not to commit Australia to military operations in Iraq & Syria. 5.9.2014

    Letter sent to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, 2 September 2014
    Australian Quakers urge you and the Government to resist any request for military involvement in the tragic events in Iraq and Syria. The humanitarian impact of the crisis there needs to be a priority, and we applaud action taken by Australia to contribute in that way.

    UN High Commissioner for Human Rights thanked for service. 5.9.2014

    Letter sent to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay
    On behalf of Australian Quakers I write to thank you for the commitment, independence and resilience you have shown during your time as UN Commissioner for Human Rights. We believe you have raised the profile of the Office and given encouragement to many who have been suffering from abuses of their human rights and dignity.

    Watching Brief: Pine Gap Base--August 2014

    It is some years since public attention was focused on Pine Gap Base in central Australia. In this Brief, Friends will be reminded of the history and recent activities at this military base, and offered some ideas about possible action, and offered some ideas about possible action

    Action Alert: Joint Strike Fighter Jets--August 2014

    Australia has decided to purchase F-35A aircraft for the defence forces. As part of preparing the way for these planes, a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was prepared and released in July.

    Whilst it seems to be too late to change the decision to purchase the planes, there may be opportunities for Friends to make it known that they are concerned about the environmental implications.

    Access full paper here

    Watching Brief: War Powers--August 2014

    On 17 July 2014 Senator Scott Ludlam (Australian Greens) reintroduced into Parliament the Defence Amendment (Parliamentary Approval of Overseas Service) Bill 2014 'to ensure that the decision to deploy members of the Australian Defence Force be made not by the executive alone but by parliament as a whole.' Australian Quakers can follow the progress of the Bill by reference to the Parliament website www.aph.gov.au.

    Access full paper here.

    Watching Brief: Japan's Constitution--July 2014

    The visit of Shinzo Abe, Japanese Prime Minister, to Australia recently highlighted the moves he has made to reinterpret the ‘peace’ clause of the Japanese Constitution to allow more freedom to participate on military activities beyond its borders. This has generated considerable alarm in the region. This Watching Brief gives background details and some points for consideration among Friends.

    Watching Brief: Defence White Paper 2015--July 2014

    The Federal Government has plans to develop a Defence White Paper for 2015, and has appointed an Expert Panel to begin the process.
    The intention is that the White Paper will be a whole-of-government product and that the Expert Panel with “engage with experts in Australia and abroad, within government and industry, the think-tank community, State and Territory and local governments and with the Australian people throughout the development of the White Paper”.
    The development of a White Paper for 2015 is an opportunity for Friends to consider what issues to raise, and QPLC invites feedback on the concerns Friends have, so that we can be prepared to make a further submission when that is invited by the Expert Panel.

    Action Alert: National Security Monitor--July 2014

    The Federal Government has decided to abolish the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor (INSLM) established by the previous government in 2010. Repeal legislation is currently before the Senate and is being reviewed by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee. It is due to report on 19 August 2014.
    The Monitor was put in place to provide a continuing review of anti-terrorism legislation. Bret Walker, the current holder of the position, has issued four reports, the latest of which appeared in April 2014. It covered such areas as the Defence Act Call Out Powers, Australians and Armed Conflicts Abroad, Foreign Evidence, and Passport Cancellation and Citizenship Issues.
    This is an opportunity for Friends who are so led to take up this concern with their Federal MPs and Senators, and to persuade them that, at the very least, the independent Monitor should retain a role in the review of legislation, and that the Parliament and Government should take more seriously the recommendations from that officer.

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