Quaker Peace and Legislation Committee

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Quaker Peace and Legislation Committee

Black and white photo from the world war one era, showing a group of Quakers holding silent witness for peace.

Aims to monitor international and national legislation and government policies and actions regarding matters of particular interest to Friends.


The Quaker Peace & Legislation Committee aims to monitor international and national legislation and government policies and actions regarding matters of particular interest to Friends. The purpose is to keep Quakers informed of issues by circulating briefing sheets indicating basic details and possible action by Friends locally and beyond. The committee can also make representations to government or parliament on behalf of Friends, or propose such action to the Presiding Clerk, Standing Committee or Yearly Meeting. The committee may initiate particular peace projects, including in cooperation with Regional Meetings, to enhance the involvement of Friends in peace concerns.

Foreign Relations Bill - Watching Brief 20-9 (September 2020)

This Brief refers to current legislation before Parliament to ensure that any arrangements made between foreign governments and Australian States, Territories, councils and universities are consistent with Australian foreign policy. The responses of various groups are given, and suggestions for action. 

United Nations 75th Anniversary - Watching Brief 20-8 (September 2020)

This brief outlines the range of activities undertaken by the United Nations at its 75th anniversary and the involvement and support provided to the UN within Australia and globally.

Asylum Seekers and Refugees - Action Alert 20-4 (September 2020)

This action alert identifies the key issues surrounding the status of refugees and asylum seekers in Australia, the role of the Australian Government and organisations involved in these issues.

Higher Education Support Enquiry - Action Alert 20-5 (September 2020)

Urgent call for submissions to the Senate enquiry on changes to higher education fees currently in progress.

Australia and the UN Human Rights Council - Watching Brief 20-7 (August 2020)

This brief covers recent Australian participation as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), and the NGO submission (endorsed by Quakers) to the Council in advance of the regular review of Australia’s human rights record.

Quakers and Peace - Watching Brief 20-6 (July 2020)

This Brief deals with the origins and development of the Quaker Peace Testimony over the years since Quakers began as a movement in the mid-17th century in England. It points to areas of recent thought and action among Quakers, and offers ideas for personal and group witness.

Age of Criminal Responsibility - Action Alert 20-3 (July 2020)

This Alert refers to proposals to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14. It is being considered by all governments in Australia.

Commission for the Human Future - Watching Brief 20-5 (June 2020)

This Brief outlines the formation and plans of the Commission for the Human Future, a group of eminent academics and scientists concerned about the many dangers facing humanity, and identifies ways in which Friends can support its vision.

ASIO BIll - Action Alert 20-2 (June 2020)

This Alert draws attention to the recent legislation amending the ASIO Act, offers some analysis and comment, and gives information on where advocacy can be pursued.

Documents in Advance - 2020 QPLC Report

Summary of the Committee's activities, for consideration at Quaker Yearly Meeting.

Death Penalty - Watching Brief 20-4 (April 2020)

The imposition of the death penalty remains a significant challenge to Quakers and others committed to restorative and nonviolent approaches to crime and punishment. The Australian Government has now become more active in promoting abolition of the death penalty around the world. This Brief outlines what is being done by government and NGOs.

Government Accountability - Watching Brief 20-3 (February 2020)

Secrecy and unwillingness to admit mistakes seriously impairs the accountability of government. This Brief looks at the current situation federally, the avenues for accountability and transparency, and what might be done to restore confidence in democracy.

Bushfires enquiry - Action Alert 20-1 (February 2020)

Information for people wishing to make a submission to Parliament's enquiry into the recent bushfire crisis.

Myanmar and the Rohinga Genocide - Letter to the PM (February 2020)

The Presiding Clerk has written to the Prime Minister urging support for the International Court of Justice's findings against Myanmar's prosecution of the Rohinga people.

Response to the revised Religious Discrimination Bill 2020 (January 020)

Letter from the Presiding Clerk to the Government expressing Australian Quaker's continuing objections to the revised Religious Discrimination Bill.

Australian Defence review Nov 2019 - Watching Brief 20-2 (January 2020)

Summary of the recent Australian Defence review published in November 2019, and Quaker's response to ongoing geopolitical instability.

UNHRC Sept 2019 meeting - Watching Brief 20-1 (January 2020)

Summary of Australian submissions on a range of human rights issues to the UN Human Rights Commission meeting, Sept 2019.

Letter to Prime Minister Morrison - DFAT Funding Decline (December 2019)

Quakers urge the government to restore funding to DFAT and Australia's overseas aid programs.

Media Release - US Government support of Israeli Settlements undermines moves for peace (November 2019)

Australian Quakers express deep concern at the US Government's recognition of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Sustainable Development Goals - Watching Brief 19-9 (October 2019)

The aim of this brief is to provide an update on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and suggested topics for correspondence to, or meetings with, Members of Parliament.

ABC Legislation - Action Alert 19-9 (August 2019)

Legislation is currently before Parliament to add further pressure on the ABC by extending its regional coverage without sufficient extra funding. Legislation is also foreshadowed to require ‘fair and balanced’ reporting. This Alert suggests action that might be taken.

Lethal Autonomous Weapons - update - Watching Brief 19-8 (August 2019)

The current integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is particularly concerning with lethal autonomous weapons systems without human control on the horizon. *Update to Watching Brief 19-2*

Statement by Churches in West Papua calling for military to leave region and Letter from Presiding Clerk regarding West Papua violence

The outbreak of violent confrontations in West Papua is condemned by the Ecumenical Forum of Churches in Papua in this statement, along with a letter of support from the Quaker Presiding Clerk to the National Council of Churches in Australia. 

QPLC Freedom of Religion Legislation submission (October 2019)

Submission addressing the Government's package of religious freedom legislation currently before Parliament.

Climate Emergency, Supporting Pacific Voices - Action Alert 19-8 (September 2019)

This Alert draws attention to the recent Pacific Islands Forum and the concerns of Pacific nations about how seriously climate change is affecting them and their future. It suggests action within Australia to support those concerns.

Social Defence, an update - Watching Brief 19-7 (August 2019)

This is an update on Watching Brief 17-1 about social defence. A book has now been published by Jergen Johansen and Brian Martin on the subject, and this Brief covers their analysis and ideas about how a nonviolent approach to defence could work in our world.

Self-determination for West Papua - Action Alert 19-7 (September 2019)

This Alert follows recent nonviolent demonstrations in West Papua for a vote on independence. It draws attention to an appeal for outside support for the people there in their struggle for self-determination after many years of Indonesian rule.

Protecting Whistleblowers - Watching Brief 19-6 (August 2019)

The perils facing those who reveal information that the public has the right to know are highlighted by recent raids on journalists and prosecution of whistleblowers. This Brief outlines the legal situation and offers ideas on possible action.

Foreign Fighters - Action Alert 19-6 (August 2019)

Federal Parliament has now passed laws to give the Government power to deny Australian citizens (from 14 upwards) who are living in camps in Syria, having been involved with ISIS, the right of re-entry to Australia for up to two years. This Alert explains the current situation, the legislation, and possible responses.

Iran-United States Conflict - Action Alert 19-5 (July 2019)

Tensions between the US and Iran are escalating. It is time for all who work for peace to speak out against this possibility. This Alert offers some background and points that can be taken up with our political representatives.

Morrison's second ministry - Watching Brief 19-5 (June 2019)

Summary of Ministerial and bureaucratic changes made following the recent election of the Morrison government.

Update on Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) Campaigns - Watching Brief 19-4 (June 2019)

QPLC is re-issuing our 2013 Watching Brief on BDS, with a short update, to contribute to the AYM discernment process with regard to Quaker withdrawal from any investments which might support Israel's occupation of Palestine.

Julian Assange Letter to Prime Minister Morrison, 30 May 2019

Letter to the PM requesting extra consular assistance for Julian Assange. 

Quaker United Nations Office - Watching Brief 19-3 (May 2019)

Quakers have for many years had a presence at the United Nations to contribute to its multilateral peacemaking role. This Brief outlines the current work of QUNO and how Australian Friends can keep in touch.

Lethal Autonomous Weapons - Watching Brief 19-2 (May 2019)

The emergence of new technology in autonomous weapons systems ("killer robots") raises many issues. This Brief outlines the current trends and how Australian Friends might respond.

Human Rights Defenders - Watching Brief 19-1 (April 2019)

Human rights defenders are people who act to promote or protect human rights. They can be journalists, environmentalists, whistle-blowers, and so on. Margaret Clark of QPLC attended a DFAT human rights forum for NGOs, and she reports on the background to that work and the emerging challenges, and action being taken.

War Memorial Expansion - Action Alert 19-4 (April 2019)

The Australian War Memorial has become a focus for considerable concern as it seeks substantial expansion of its museum spaces. This Alert outlines the plans and the responses and suggests ways to follow up the issues involved.

Medical Evacuation of Refugees - Action Alert 19-3 (March 2019)

This Alert summarises the legislation passed by the Parliament in February facilitating the evacuation of refugees from off-shore detention to Australia on medical grounds - legislation which was bitterly opposed by the Government.

Letter to PM regarding the US pulling out of the INF Treaty (February 2019)

The United States has pulled out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia; the Presiding Clerk has written to the Prime Minister expressing Quakers' regret and dismay at this action and asking that he urge the US to reverse the decision.

ALP Conference decisions on Foreign Policy - Action Alert (January 2019)

Summary of decisions passed at the ALP National Conference of interest to Quakers.

Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty Support - Letter to Bill Shorten (January 2019)

The ALP's support for the treaty to ban nuclear weapons is welcomed in this letter to Bill Shorten.

Letter to the Prime Minister about moving the Australian Embassy to Jerusalem

This letter argues against the Government's revised policy of recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Militarisation of Universities - Action Alert 18-5 (October 2018)

The armaments industry pervades many areas of political and economic/social life today. This Brief looks at the implications for teaching and research at our universities, and suggests questions that need to be raised.

International Criminal Court - Watching Brief 18-6 (October 2018)

The International Criminal Court has been in the news lately. This Brief looks at the origins, activities and shortcomings of the Court and examines the ways in which it might be strengthened.

Arms Race in Space - Watching Brief 18-5 (September 2018)

Recent moves by the US President to establish a Space Force represent a significant challenge to the peaceful uses of outer space. This Brief looks at current trends and identifies issues relevant to the peace movement.

Palestinian Refugees and UNRWA - Action Alert 18-4 (September 2018)

The US Government has decided to cut funding support for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) within 30 days, with severe consequences for Palestinian refugees, some of the most marginalized people.

Refugees and UNHCR - Watching Brief 18-4 (August 2018)

Summary of the UN High Commissioner on Refugees' recent draft Global Compact on Refugees.

Letter to the Prime Minister re: Uluru Statement from the Heart

The Presiding Clerk has written to the Prime Minister expressing Quakers' disappointment at the federal government's poor response to the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Media Release on the Proposed Expansion of Australia's Arms Trade

Quakers strongly disapprove of the federal government's plans to underwrite a $3.8 billion expansion of Australia's arms export trade.

Foreign Influence - Watching Brief 18-3 (July 2018)

Summary of three pieces of legislation designed to curb foreign influence in Australia's affairs, and Quaker concerns about them.

Watching Brief WB18-2 - North Korea-United States Summit (June 2018)

Text of the statement by US President Donald Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un after their summit in Singapore, and reporting of the reactions of world leaders to the summit.

Australia's Aid Program - QPLC Submission to Inquiry (June 2018)

This submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Inquiry into Australia's Aid Program outlines Quakers' approach to the issue of aid and responds to the Inquiry's specific terms of reference.

Statement to Religous Freedom Inquiry (May 2018)

Oral statement by David Purnell in support of the Quaker submission to the Religous Freedom Inquiry being conducted by the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade. 

Action Alert AA18-2 - Gun Control in Australia (April 2018)

This Alert follows one in July 2016 on this subject (16-07). There have been recent moves to increase pressure to water down gun laws in Australia. A summary of this is given, along with suggested action in response

Watching Brief WB18-1 - Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty (April 2018)

This Brief is based on a workshop held by QPLC in Canberra in late March 2018, attended by 20 Quakers from around Australia. The workshop took the nuclear weapons ban treaty as a focus for lobbying politicians at Parliament House on 27 March. 

Letter to Prime Minister: Alarm over Australia's policy to increase role in international arms trade
This new policy to increase Australia's role in the international arms trade greatly threatens decades of careful peacebuilding work. 

Archived documents

-- Includes briefings on issues such as gun control, freedom of speech, national security laws, treatment of refugee children in detention, the South China Sea conflict, reflections on Anzac Day, and more.