Peter Andren MP
Independent Federal Member for Calare : 2 March 1996 - 17 October 2007
Peter has always opposed the Australian government's involvement in the Iraq war, and moved numerous parliamentary motions that Australia should not be involved in any action in Iraq without the sanction of the United Nations.
Those motions were defeated on each occasion with the Coalition and Labor parties more often than not together voting against him.
His efforts gave voice in Parliament to the overwhelming majority of the Australian public at the time.
As indications of a possible invasion of Iraq by the USA grew stronger.
Peter moved an amendment that the Parliament oppose any Australian action in a war in Iraq without United Nations endorsement, seconded by fellow Independent Tony Windsor. This was in answer to the Foreign Minister’s Statement to the Parliament that Iraq was planning to deploy weapons of mass destruction. Neither Government nor Opposition supported the motion and with Labor’s compliance, voted to shut down any debate, so avoiding a formal vote on Peter’s motion.
As the Prime Minister approves placing Australian defence forces on war alert.
In the wake of the departure of Australian troops for the Middle East, Peter supported the call by the Australian Democrats and the Greens for the recall of the Senate.
Peter again moved his motion, with Tony Windsor seconding. This was in answer to the Prime Minister’s Statement to the Parliament that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and was developing nuclear weapons. The PM also told the House that Australian defence forces were being “pre-positioned” in the Persian Gulf ready for war. However the opposition moved to replace Peter’s motion with its own non-committal motherhood statement. Debate on the two motions, now piggy backed together, was adjourned and never dealt with, thus avoided by both government and opposition.
Peter gave public notice that he intended to force a vote that his original motion be reinstated.
When the “debate” on Iraq, and thus Peter’s motion, was shunted as an uncontentious issue from the main parliamentary chamber to Main Committee , Peter forced a vote on his motion, so moving debate back into the House of Representatives chamber for the next day.
Government and Opposition combined to actually vote against Peter’s motion (amendment), with only Peter, fellow Independent Tony Windsor and Greens Michael Organ voting for it. The names of the coalition and opposition members, all who voted against the amendment, were not recorded on the Hansard.
Peter sought to resume the Iraq debate to force a parliamentary vote on the issue that Australian forces not be involved in a “preemptive” war in Iraq without the express support of the UN. The government gagged Peter’s right to speak.
With full public and press galleries for Question Time, Peter sought to suspend Question Time and finally got to move his motion that included the demand to resume debate on Iraq and so vote on his amendment. With the eyes of the press and the public on him, the opposition in disarray, and with the dogs of war gathering, the Prime Minister allowed Peter to speak. Peter received a standing ovation from the Public Gallery. Government numbers ensured the House voted to not allow a vote to be taken!
Peter rejects the Prime Minister’s motion that the Parliament endorse the Government’s decision to join the invasion of Iraq. War begins.