Publication Details

Moore, C. (2010). Calling Out the Troops - The Australian Military and Civil Unrest: The Legal and Constitutional Issues by Michael Head. Melbourne University Law Review, 33 (3), 1022-1031.


[As of 2006, part IIIAAA of the Defence Act 1903 (Cth) permits Australian military aircraft and warships to fire missiles into civilian aircraft or shipping where they present a threat to 'Commonwealth interests'. There is no need for a declaration of war nor any actual armed conflict to be taking place. This is not to say that there are no checks and balances. There are, and they include the concurrence in most circumstances of the Prime Minister, Attorney-General, Defence Minister and Governor-General. However, such powers were too much for the German Constitutional Court, which struck down comparable German legislation. This was essentially on the grounds that a government Minister could not decide to take potentially hundreds of innocent lives to prevent another incident like that of 11 September 2001 in the United States. The challenge for the reader of Calling Out the Troops is to make their own decision about whether such powers are justified and, if they are, whether they should be prescribed in legislation. This writer does not agree with the conclusion of the author of Calling Out the Troops that such powers are part of a bourgeois conspiracy but does agree that such powers should be subject to much debate and scrutiny in order for Australians to make informed decisions as to whether the Parliament has got the balance right. This is the great strength of Calling Out the Troops, in that it does subject the new powers to considerable critical analysis.]