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Thursday, 31 August 2000
Page: 17041


Senator BROWN (9:50 AM) —My view on this matter on behalf of the Greens is that we ought never be in a position where we are asking for a review after the deployment of the Australian defence forces in a domestic situation in which parliament has had no say. This legislation enables the ministers of the day—that is, politicians here in Canberra—to bring out the Australian defence forces for a situation where they think and they have the pretext in their mind, whatever it might be that enables them to think, that there is likely to be violence. Let us make it clear that this covers such events as the Olympics and the upcoming World Economic Forum, where there has been speculation in the media and abroad about potential violence in both cases and where it would be quite within the purview of this legislation for Canberra to send in the troops.

I would like to know from the government at the outset to what degree the Australian defence forces are being deployed for either of those events at the moment. I noted on the news last night that soldiers are being used for surveillance at the Olympic site for the purpose of making sure that the site is safe. I would like to know under what conditions the soldiers are being used there and whether the previous stipulation which was in place—a specific directive to the defence forces that they were not to be training for a potential situation in which they could be used against Australian civilians—is still in place or whether it has been lifted.

I refer the chamber to a question by Mr Cameron in the House in 1993 of the then Minister for Defence, Mr Beazley, about the use of the Manual of Land Warfare produced by the department, which is effectively pamphlet No. 2 `Aid to civil power', for the use of the defence forces were they to be involved in a civil situation in Australia. Mr Beazley said, as part of that answer, `I reiterate that there is a specific directive which prohibits this type of training.' I ask the minister: is that directive still in place? If it is not, what sort of training has been taking place for the use of the Australian defence forces against civilians, under what circumstances and when did that change take place?