: John Roffey
"The cause is the heart’s beat and the children born and the risen
Frank Brennan SJ AO
The John Roffey Lecture
Warrawong Earth Sanctuary
Stock Road, Mylor
1 June 2004
Though I never knew John Roffey, I am honoured to accept the invitation
to deliver the second John Roffey Lecture under the auspices of
Spirituality in the Pub. Coming from Sin City (Sydney), I am intrigued
that those of you from the free colony of South Australia have transferred
"Spirituality in the Pub" from a pub to a sanctuary.
I can assure you that "Spirituality in the Sanctuary"
would not have quite the same ring or appeal back in Sydney. I
trust the new venue does not rule out the opportunity to share a
good South Australian red together later in the evening.
Being a Jesuit, I was delighted to read in Alan Cadwallader's inaugural
Roffey lecture that "John’s concern for the poor and how to
theologise their experience to bring transformative practice
was charged in a gathering of thirty people from a variety
of walks of life. The group was led by Daniel Berrigan, the
Jesuit member of the Chicago Seven, those who had stormed a
Minute Man missile installation to smash a phial of blood on the
nose-cone: a simple pacifist — and illegal — statement that bombs kill."
John had spent some time studying in the United States and had come
into contact with Berrigan during a formative period of his life,
making the transition from the Churches of Christ to Anglicanism.
I well recall the only public lecture that Dan Berrigan delivered
in Australia. He spoke to a huge crowd in the Dallas Brooks Hall
in Melbourne. His theme as ever was pacifism and peace. I was
there to give the vote of thanks. At one stage, a member of the
audience with deep despair said to him, "It all seems so hopeless.
What do you do to just keep going, to retain your hope?" Berrigan
in his check shirt, chewing on a toothpick, stepped up to the microphone
and replied, "I feel like that sometimes. And what do I do?
I just put on my walking shoes and go out and break the law."
I thought it a tribute to the sense of irony of the organisers of
the lecture that they asked me the only practising Jesuit lawyer
in the country to propose the vote of thanks to the most civilly
disobedient Jesuit in the western world.
Dan Berrigan SJ theologised the experience of the poor and powerless
very well when he confronted the conflict between his own pacifist
ideals and the actions of his Jesuit brothers in Central America
who had joined the struggle, some even endorsing armed struggle.
He wrote a poem To The Jesuits Of Central America: The Gratitude
Of A Brother:
Some stood up once, then sat down.
Some walked a mile, and walked away.
Some stood up twice, then sat down.
I’ve had it, they said.
Some walked two miles, then walked away.
It’s too much, they said.
Some stood and stood and stood.
The were taken for dunces
They were taken for fools
They were taken for being taken in.
Some walked and walked and walked.
They walked the earth
They walked the waters
They walked on the air.
Why do you stand?
they were asked, and
Why do you walk?
Because of the children, they said, and
Because of the heart, and
Because of the bread
is the heart’s beat
and the children born
and the risen bread.
Thus my tribute to John Roffey: "The cause is the heart’s
beat and the children born and the risen bread". Tonight I
want to focus on the dealings between church and state as emotions
have run high in the wake of September 11, the Bali bombings and
the Iraq War. One of John's church co-workers told me that John
would always have said, "You can't muzzle the truth. You can't
muzzle the church. The Church does not always speak the truth.
But when it does, let it rip!" When he died aged only 54,
he was "up to his neck" at Anglicare here in Adelaide
organising assistance for the refugees being detained behind the
razor wire at Woomera. He was deeply concerned for the children.
He was passionate about the heart's beat in an often heartless society.
He found sustenance in the risen bread.
In his last major public address entitled "Sacred Life, Sacred
Society: The Death of the Market Place", Roffey said, "In
response to the refugee crisis within our globe, or our fear of
terrorism, or the bombing in Afghanistan, more people are speaking
of our common humanity as a ground for our consideration."
He described his vision for the church:
That in our mission and work we demonstrate a commitment to
our belief that society and life are sacred. We are to make real
our belief that no individual is a commodity and that no social
practice or structure ought treat people as disposable entities.
Boat people detained for years in places like Woomera and Baxter
have been used as a commodity to send a message, as disposable entities
to curry electoral favour and to deter the prospective clients of
people smugglers. The life of an asylum seeker, whether an adult
or a child, is not treated as sacred when the person is detained
behind razor wire without any attempt by government truthfully to
offer a coherent rationale for the detention. Though no one can
object to detention of an asylum seeker arriving without documents
while an assessment is made whether the person is a health or security
risk, one is entitled to object in the strongest terms to ongoing
detention which has no rationale. It is fatuous for government
to tell church leaders that detention of persons, including children
is justified to ensure that the 10% who are ultimately rejected
as refugees are not able to father children to Australian citizens
thereby making it more difficult to remove them. Ongoing detention
does not assist with the determination of claims. It does not materially
assist with the removal of the 60,000 unauthorised overstayers each
The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission's report A Last
Resort? has now been tabled in the Parliament. The Commission found
“Australia's immigration detention laws, as administered by the
Commonwealth, and applied to unauthorised arrival children, create
a detention system that is fundamentally inconsistent with the Convention
on the Rights of the Child (CRC)” and “Children in immigration detention
for long periods of time are at high risk of serious mental harm.”
HREOC concluded: “The mandatory, indefinite and effectively unreviewable
immigration detention of children who arrive in Australia without
a visa has resulted in multiple and continuing breaches of children's
fundamental human rights.” HREOC has made five major recommendations:
Children in immigration detention centres and residential housing
projects as at the date of the tabling of this report should
be released with their parents, as soon as possible, but no
later than four weeks after tabling.
Australia's immigration detention laws should be amended,
as a matter of urgency, to comply with the Convention on the
Rights of the Child.
An independent guardian should be appointed for unaccompanied
children and they should receive appropriate support.
Minimum standards of treatment for children in immigration
detention should be codified in legislation.
There should be a review of the impact on children of legislation
that creates 'excised offshore places' and the 'Pacific Solution'.
The conflict between HREOC and the Immigration Department (DIMIA)
is summarised in these observations in the report:
The Inquiry's view (supported by UN and Australian experts)
is that because deprivation of liberty is such an extreme measure
to impose on a child, the need to detain must be justified in
the case of each and every child. The Department, on the other
hand, is of the view that detention need only be justified in
a general sense.
DIMIA provided six objections to the report’s recommendations:
Introducing routine and systematic review of the need to detain
in the individual circumstances of each case would clog courts
and slow down visa processing.
Statistics suggest that all children must be detained to ensure
availability for processing and removal.
Mandatory detention helps deter children and families from
coming by boat to Australia.
It is too expensive to support children in the community during
It is too difficult to codify human rights protections for
children in detention in legislation.
There is nowhere to put unauthorised arrivals.
HREOC rejected all six objections as being unfounded. The government
followed up with Ministers Ruddock and Vanstone labelling the HREOC
report as disappointing, unbalanced, and backward looking. They
continue to claim that there are only three policy objectives to
the mandatory detention of all unvisaed arrivals including children:
(1) monitoring the integrity of our migration program (whatever
that means); (2) Ensuring people are available for health, character,
security and identity checks (achievable in days or weeks rather
than months or years); and (3) ensuring that failed asylum seekers
are available for removal (after the 92% of refugee children have
been finally released into the community). So there is still no
coherent rationale for detention. It is to the everlasting shame
of us, the present generation of Australians, that we permitted
government to institute such an unnecessary, unjustified and inhumane
regime for the treatment of these children, 92% of whom were found
to be refugees. Let’s join with Commissioner Sev Ozdowski in the
plea: “Let no child who arrives in Australia ever suffer under this
I am delighted that church leaders have continued to agitate against
the ongoing detention of asylum seekers. It is to the credit of
many community groups that all members of Parliament, except the
Coalition parties who are never allowed to express publicly a view
contrary to the Prime Minister on such issues, now declare that
mandatory, universal detention post-health and security assessments
is unnecessary and unwarranted. Eventually the truth will out,
no matter what discipline is imposed on our political parties.
There is still plenty of work for us to do in ensuring truth and
respectful dialogue in determining the circumstances in which Australia
will go to war in future without the authorisation of the United
Nations. Church leaders have received some pretty rough handling
from government since September 11.
Government's treatment of Church Leaders
Given that we are celebrating the memory of an Anglican clergyman
this evening, let me take an example from the government's treatment
of the primate of the Anglican Church, Peter Carnley. Anglicans
John Howard and Alexandeer Downer continue to be upset about the
remarks made by the Anglican Primate after the Bali bombing in October
2002. Preparing for the next election, John Howard is not prepared
to let go the Carnley interviews of that time. The Adelaide
Advertiser of 16 February 2004 carried this report of the Prime
"I think church leaders should speak out on moral issues
but there is a problem with that justification being actively
translated into sounding very partisan," he said, in an interview
with The Advertiser. "I don't deny the right of any church
leader to talk about anything."
"But I think, from the point of view of the unity of the
church, it stresses and strains when the only time they hear from
their leaders is when they are talking about issues that are bound
to divide their congregations."
Mr Howard singled out an attack by Anglican Primate of Australia
Peter Carnley after the Bali bomb blast, which included suggestions
the bombers believed Australia was too close to the US.
Echoing a speech by Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer
in August, Mr Howard said a church leader's first responsibility
should have been to deplore the attack.
"I know something of the composition of church congregations,"
"There are a range of political views and you can offend.
Particularly (when) some of the church leaders have been particularly
critical of our side of politics, they end up offending a large
number of their patrons."
Some church leaders also mounted a campaign just before the Iraq
war last year, trying to convince Mr Howard to find a way to end
the crisis peacefully.
Mr Howard, an Anglican, said the churches' "primary responsibility
is spiritual leadership", which he respected and supported.
"They can say what they like but, equally, they have to
understand that if they say things that are unreasonable, a lot
of people are going to have a go back," he said.
Last August, you will recall that Alexander Downer had commenced
his Playford Lecture in this way:
Let me begin with a personal anecdote. Listening to the ABC’s
AM on Saturday morning 19th October I was dumbfounded to hear
the announcer Hamish Robertson say “well, the head of the
nation’s Anglican Church says the Bali Bomb attack was an
inevitable consequence of Australia’s close alliance with
the United States…Dr. Peter Carnley says terrorists were
responding to Australia’s outspoken support for the United
States and particularly its preparedness to take unilateral action
Here was the head of my own church, reported by the ABC as rushing
to judgment and blaming the Australian Government for bombing
incidents in which so many of our people were killed or terribly
Whether this report was fair or not, it struck me hard. There
was no concentration on comforting the victims and their families,
no binding up of the broken-hearted while a shocked nation mourned.
Yet surely that first and foremost is what was needed and what
we were entitled to expect.
It was a stark reminder of the tendency of some church leaders
to ignore their primary pastoral obligations in favour of hogging
the limelight on complex political issues –and in this case
a national tragedy –in ways which would have been inconceivable
in the Playford era. This is something that has troubled me for
There is always need for caution when you have a senior politician
with a team of researchers and speech writers ten months later deciding
not to quote directly what his victim said. Downer was taking exception
to Carnley's address to the WA Synod on 18 October 2002 in which
Carnley actually said:
Most of us now believe that such a well planned and strategic
placing of a bomb speaks clearly enough for itself. Retaliation
against America's allies has been verbally threatened for some
The targeting of a nightclub, which is known to have been popular
with young Australians on holiday, suggests that this terrorist
attack was aimed both at Australia, as one of the allies of the
United States of America and, at the same time, at what is seen
by militant Muslims to be the decadence of western culture.
Does anyone now seriously doubt what Carnley was saying? Australians
were being targeted both because we are identified with the decadent
west by militant Muslims and also because of our close relationship
to the United States. There may also have been other factors, including
our intervention in East Timor.
There was controversy at the time with Carnley's address. He then
sought to set the record straight with his published letter of 29
A number of your correspondents have alleged that I laid the
blame for the nightclub bombing in Bali on the Australian Government.
This is incorrect.
Those who take the trouble to read the text of my Synod address
on the evening of Friday 18 October, and the transcript of the
press conference that followed it, will find that at the press
conference Tanya Nolan explicitly asked: 'So are you therefore
criticising the Howard government's vocal support of American-led
The record shows that my reply was: "No I'm not wanting
to criticise the Howard government's support. I think we did think
earlier on that we were unwisely supporting unilateral action
by the United States in Iraq. I think we've moderated that position.
If anything I think the Howard government is to be commended for
backing away from that and for supporting UN inspections."
It is public knowledge that I wrote to John Howard as long ago
as 8 August expressing the concern of Anglican Bishops at Australia's
support of the US 'first strike' policy. That is a matter of fact.
It might now be alleged in the spirit of "I told you so"
that the bomb attack in Bali had been brought upon the Australian
people. In response to that suggestion I once again said: "No;
I wouldn't say the Howard government brought the bomb attack on
Australian people. I think it was our lot in fact to suffer because
of our close association with America anyway. I think any government
with an alliance with America would have been in the firing line.'
Clearly, far from laying blame I resisted being led in such a
simplistic direction. The fact is that the Church is not into
the culture of blame. Its business is to help people process the
trauma of an utterly despicable event that we will wrestle to
understand and agonise about for many years to come. Some of your
correspondents are apparently content to contend that the bombing
was a reprisal for Australian support of independence for East
Timor, or even that the large number of Australians killed or
injured can be explained simply as a kind of geographical accident:
the proximity of Australia to Bali means that naturally there
would be a good number of Australians there.
For many of us, however, such an explanation of a well planned
and deliberate targeting of a nightclub when it was common knowledge
that large numbers of Australians would be present, seems both
too narrowly focused and at the same time too shallow. The shadow
side of human motivation to hatred is surely much more complex.
We will be whistling in the dark if we do not take note of the
actual reasons expressed by the terrorist network itself. Within
recent weeks there have been explicit reported threats against
America and its allies. For this reason alone, it is entirely
understandable that a Newspoll conducted last week for a Sydney
newspaper found that 69% of respondents believed our support for
the US was a factor in the Bali attack.
Islamic fundamentalist invective against western culture- whose
global intrusiveness is resented and hated- has been long sustained.
The addressing of hatred is a religious and not just a political
matter. You cannot bomb away hatred. That is why Christian leaders
have a responsibility to enter into dialogue with moderate and
peaceable Islam and work actively to overcome the deep seated
alienation that so clearly exists at present between East and
It is not by denial, but in owning up to some of the harsh and
difficult realities of our situation, and in grappling with them
together, that we will be able to move forward. By this means
we will give ourselves the understandings to marginalise- and
eventually neutralise and eliminate- the destructive forces of
suspicion and hatred that feed world terrorism.
Though this lengthy correction of public misperception by Carnley
counts for nothing with Howard and Downer, should they not at least
acknowledge that Carnley was trying to deal with a highly nuanced
issue in a responsible way? How can anyone honestly read this letter
and then ten months later make Downer's outburst about clerics "
hogging the limelight on complex political issues –and in this case
a national tragedy".
It is quite dishonest of Downer ten months later to claim, "There
was no concentration on comforting the victims and their families,
no binding up of the broken-hearted while a shocked nation mourned."
As Downer well knows, on 14 October 2002, before the Synod address
and immediately after the bombing, Primate Carnley issued a statement
full of comfort for the victims and binding up of the broken-hearted.
Consider the text for yourself:
The head of the Anglican Church in Australia, Archbishop Peter
Carnley of Perth, today expressed his horror at the murderous
attacks in Bali yesterday.
"I am shocked at the ferocity of the attacks and deeply
concerned for the victims and their loved ones," Dr Carnley
said. "The loss of life and injury caused is tragic. This
has shattered any illusions we may have had about the threat to
Australians posed by terrorists. Terrorism can rear its ugly head
even in the most idyllic surroundings."
"This tragic event also reminds us that evil people are
operating close to home."
Dr Carnley said he had some sympathy for the suggestion that
Australia might need to give priority to using its military and
intelligence resources to pursue the architects of terrorism within
Australia and in cooperation with its near neighbours.
Archbishop Carnley said that for the Balinese, who depend so
heavily on tourism, this was a double blow. They had suffered
heavy casualties as Australia had, and many would lose their livelihoods.
Dr Carnley said that all Anglican parishes would offer prayers
for the victims, their friends and families, regardless of their
nationality or faith. He said he had called on members of the
Anglican community to offer whatever support they could at a local
"My prayers are with the families and friends of those who
are victims of this atrocity."
Two months before Downer's Playford Oration, the government was
arguing for an expansion of ASIO's powers in the Senate. Government
Senator Santoro told the Senate: 
We know from horrific experience that not only do Australians
face the same level of threat as any other people but also, as
was the case in Bali in October last year, they are very specific
What Santoro said is quite consistent with Carnley's position.
So what's the problem? Are we not permitted to speculate on why
Australians are very specific targets. Or is that no role for reflective
church leaders? Carnley's sentiments were on all fours with the
more recent comments of Federal Police Commissioner Keelty. The
ferociousness, vindictiveness and dishonesty of the ministerial
responses leaves one with the perception that government has something
Though there was spirited debate and cabinet resignations in the
UK because of Mr Blair's ready membership of the Coalition of the
Willing, Canberra compliance with prime ministerial directives
was complete. It was very troubling to hear the mixed messages
from Prime Minister John Howard and Mr Tony Abbott about the increased
risks of terrorism to Australian citizens. Abbott, the Leader of
the Government in the House, told Parliament, "There is the
increased risk of terrorist attack here in Australia".
 Next day, the Prime Minister told us, "We haven’t
received any intelligence in recent times suggesting that there
should be an increase in the level of security or threat alert."
 Regardless of who was right, their contradictory
statements provided incontrovertible evidence that there was minimal
debate, discussion and discernment within our Cabinet and political
party processes prior to making a commitment to war in such novel
political circumstances. The thinking was done in Washington.
We signed on, presuming that our national interest and the international
common good would be served by Alliance compliance. In these circumstances,
there is a place for church leaders to speak out. If they are misunderstood
and then correct the public record, that should be acknowledged
by our very sensitive political leaders.
The Prime Minister's Spin on Church Statements About War
In the lead up to the war, the church leadership
in the US, UK and Australia was remarkably united in its criticism
of the public rationale offered for war. However, there was a variety
of views about the margin for error to be afforded to government.
When asked about the clear opposition from church leaders such as
the Archbishop of Canterbury, John Howard told the National Press
There is a variety of views being expressed. I think in sheer
number of published views, there would have been more critical
than supportive. I thought the articles that came from Archbishop
Pell and Archbishop Jensen were both very thoughtful and balanced.
I also read a very thoughtful piece from Bishop Tom Frame, who
is the Anglican Bishop of the Australian Defence Forces. The greater
volume of published views would have been critical, but I think
there have been some very thoughtful other views and the ones
I have mentioned, I certainly include in them.
Once the war commenced, Archbishop Jensen said, "For my own
part I remain unpersuaded that we ought to have committed our military
forces, but I recognise the limitations of my judgment and the sincerity
of those who differ."
In the month before the war, Bishop Frame had said: "I am
now inclined to believe a campaign against Iraq during the next
few months involving Australian Defence Force personnel would be
just." Three months after the war, Bishop Frame said: "If
it is established that the weapons did not exist and the Coalition
did or should have known this, the war will not have been justified
and must be deemed immoral. A case for war against Iraq based solely
on ‘regime change’ would have been inadequate and I would have been
obliged to share this conclusion with those for whom I have a pastoral
responsibility. " On Palm Sunday 2004 Bishop Frame announced
his "considered conclusion that the war against Iraq was neither
just nor necessary". Let me give you a selection of quotes
from his Palm Sunday address to the ecumenical peace rally held
My conclusion is simply that the war cannot be reconciled with
just war principles nor, in my judgement, are there grounds for
claiming it was strategically necessary.
One year on, it would appear that no-one now seriously entertains
the prospect that WMDs will ever be found in Iraq.
I do not agree with those who say it is still too early to make
ethical judgements about the war itself. Perhaps it is too early
for political and strategic assessments but there is sufficient
data to allow ethical determinations to be made.
As I look back on the events of the last twelve months I continue
to seek God’s forgiveness for my complicity in creating
a world in which this sort of action was ever considered by anyone
to be necessary. Even so, come Lord Jesus. Amen.
It is helpful to quote Bishop Frame at some length for three reasons.
He was the clearest public advocate for war in the Australian church
hierarchies before the war. He is a senior military chaplain who
was himself an officer in the services before his ordination. And
most significantly as he now tells us:
In the weeks leading up to the commencement of hostilities on
20 March 2003 I had direct dealings with the Prime Minister and
senior ADF officers concerning public anxieties over the prospect
of Australian involvement in a US-led campaign against Iraq. I
wrote two articles for The Australian newspaper concerning the
matter because I was asked by many ADF members to assess ethically
the case for war as it was presented by the Government.
In April this year, Bishop Frame spoke up again, telling the Canberra
Times that he no longer believed the war was justified. The newspaper
summed up Frame's analysis in these terms: "But one year on,
except that the war itself had been brief and civilian casualties
had not been unreasonably high, the case for a just war had failed
on all other just war criteria." Bishop Frame said:
I took the view the case the Government was putting was really
only a fraction of what was actually known and that the Government
was not in a position to disclose all it knew.
The many people I consulted believed once the campaign was waged
we would see the full extent of what Iraq possessed.
It was put to me including by some members of the Government
that Iraq was a reprehensible regime. We are not proposing to
take similar action against equally reprehensible regimes around
I have never and do not now believe the Government deliberately
misled or lied to the Australian people. The Government just assumed
the weapons would be there.
In future the public is going to be far more unconvinced about
threats to Australia's security than before. That may be no bad
Speaking on ABC Radio National on 14 April 2004, Bishop Frame said
in light of the absence of weapons of mass destruction and the absence
of means or motive for Iraq to have been a threat to its neighbours,
"It would be impossible for me to say now that the war in Iraq
was just….I could not and cannot take that view now and that's something
that sits very uneasily with me but it's the way my conscience has
driven me when I've considered what's at stake here."
Despite the Prime Minister's fudging of the issue, Cardinal Pell
has never given any public indication that the war was justified.
Pell did not make any clarifying statement once the war commenced.
He left stand his earlier caveat, "The public evidence is as
yet insufficient to justify going to war, especially without the
backing of the UN Security Council," as well as the statement
of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference to which he was a
signatory: "With the Holy See and many bishops and religious
leaders throughout the world, we believe that the strict conditions
of Christian teaching for the use of military force against Iraq
have not been met. In particular, we question the moral legitimacy
of a pre-emptive strike. Indeed, any action against Iraq without
broad international support and the mandate of the United Nations
Security Council would be questionable." The Prime Minister's
statements and the Cardinal's later silence left many Catholics
confused. Presumably the Prime Minister drew solace from the cardinal's
pre-war observation, "Decisions about war belong to Caesar,
not the church." Though Caesar makes the decision, the church
must discern and comment on the morality of that decision. Church
leaders must publicly help their people make the moral assessment.
It is not good enough to suspend the moral faculty and simply trust
the government of the day. If we do that with war, then why not
with any other moral issue?
Last month, Cardinal Pell for the first time since the Prime Minister's
misrepresentation of his position in March 2003 clarified his position
on the Iraq war. He told a press conference in Ballarat:
I never publicly endorsed the second war in Iraq. I wrote publicly
about it and I said at that stage the case was not established.
They said they were going to Iraq basically on two grounds: that
there were weapons of mass destruction there; and that Saddam
was actively supporting Al Qaeda. Neither of those two grounds
has been established. ... I didn't endorse the war.
Presumably the Cardinal has had the opportunity to express these
views to the Prime Minister privately many times since March 2003.
I would even presume that there would have been some opportunity
for discussion between the Cardinal and the Prime Minister back
in March 2003 when the Prime Minister, at least by implication,
was invoking Cardinal Pell as one of three church leaders giving
him greater room to move in joining the Coalition of the willing
with arguably just cause. Though the Prime Minister purported to
distinguish those views of church leaders that were "thoughtful
and balanced" from those that were critical, we can now appreciate
how misleading it was for the Prime Minister to group the Pell and
Jensen comments together with the Frame comments. At no time did
Pell and Jensen give the war the tick. Frame did but has since
retracted, obviously having good reason to revise what he was told
by the Prime Minister and senior advisers before the war.
John Roffey once wrote that “poverty is an inevitable price for
refusing to worship the state”. As Archbishop Carnley can attest,
so too is abuse. As Archbishops Jensen and Pell can attest, so
too is misrepresentation. And as Bishop Frame can attest, so too
is manipulation. We are still in turbulent waters assessing what
is a moral response to the new world situation in which the Americans
have put us all on notice that there is one rule for the US and
one rule for the rest of the world. Imagine, for example, if India
and Pakistan were free to engage in pre-emptive strikes. In September
2002, the United States National Security Council published The
National Security Strategy of the United States of America:
The United States has long maintained the option of preemptive
actions to counter a sufficient threat to our national security.
The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction— and
the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to
defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and
place of the enemy’s attack. To forestall or prevent such hostile
acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary,
After the Iraq debacle, it is essential that we return to a more
critical application of just war theory. If the western democracies
on the UN Security Council are not unanimous about the international
threat to peace and security posed by a rogue state, it is unlikely
that such a state poses an imminent threat warranting armed intervention.
Given the mistakes made before and after the Iraq intervention,
I leave you with one simple question: Why is it so unthinkable
that we Australians should become a little more like the New Zealanders
and Canadians, rather than surrendering our moral faculties and
subscribing to armed intervention whenever requested by the Americans?
Kofi Annan is right to seek clearer guidelines for the future, setting
down criteria for humanitarian intervention. Let's hope we Australians
can constructively contribute to such a discussion rather than our
recently acquired taste for bagging the United Nations.
It is a pity that we now live in a democracy where government is
never allowed to admit that they were wrong and where officials
are encouraged to make sure that ministers do not know the truth
about complex issues which could cause political embarrassment.
In such difficult times we need greater trust and a greater commitment
to truth, justice and peace. When making decisions which impact
on the Afghan Muslim asylum seeker or the Baghdad resident, we need
to be sure about our motives. Crass utilitarianism that permits
suffering for the few in the name of greater happiness for the many,
and primitive national interest that permits war on the "other"
in return for benefit to the state are insufficient moral tools
for navigating the turbulent new waters of pre-emption, humanitarian
intervention, adequate border protection and ordered migration.
Our task was set down by John Roffey when he said, "Without
an applied commitment to our common humanity, we lose what is sacred,
at the expense of liberation and justice." Let's never forget
that "the cause is the heart’s beat and the children born and
the risen bread".
 Hansard 11685, Senate, 17 June 2003
 Hansard, 18 March 2003, 12551
 Interview With Steve Price, Radio 2UE, 19 March
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