Welcome to the Australia Defence Association (www.ada.asn.au)
Historical echoes from Winter 2008
In this issue:
Who are we?
The Australia Defence Association (ADA) has long been Australia's only truly independent, non-partisan, community-based, public-interest watchdog and 'think-tank' on strategic security, defence and wider national security issues.
Commonly asked questions about the ADA and our efforts are answered in detail on our frequently-asked-questions pages.
What do we do?
We seek to represent the long-term public interest in helping ensure Australia is strategically and domestically secure, and that current and future Australians are adequately defended.
Our long-term public-interest oversight primarily focuses on ministerial, governmental and parliamentary accountability for the effective formulation and execution of strategic and wider national security policy.
Including the consequent capabilities and employment of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), Australia's six intelligence and security agencies, and the effectiveness of their supporting departments.
What do we believe?
We believe in rigorously implementing three key principles concerning Australia's strategic and domestic security:
- Our common defence and strategic security is the first responsibility of every Australian government.
- Ensuring our common defence is also a universal civic responsibility of all Australians. Not just, for example, current or former members of our defence force. At the very least every Australian needs to think about it seriously and insist our governments do too.
- National unity, economic strength, free speech, robust public debate, and capable and adaptable defence capabilities, are inter-related and essential components of Australia's national security.
What is our core policy basis?
As a community-based, independent, national public-interest watchdog organisation — with a non-partisan and long-term perspective — we therefore seek the development and implementation of national security structures, processes and policies encompassing:
- an accountable, integrated and flexible structure for making strategic security, defence and wider national security decisions over the long term;
- a practical and effective balance between potentially competing needs for civil liberties, community security and budgetary priorities;
- intellectually and professionally robust means of continually assessing Australia's external strategic and domestic security situations;
- the sustained allocation of adequate national resources to all our strategic security, defence and wider national security needs according to such means (rather than tailoring supposed "assessments" to the funding levels, bureaucratic fashions and partisan policies thought to be acceptable politically);
- integrated and deterrent defence and national security strategies based on the protection and support of our sovereign freedom of action and enduring national interests;
- the development and maintenance of an adequate defence force capable of executing the defence aspects of such a national strategy; and
- the development and maintenance of manufacturing and service industries capable of developing and sustaining defence force capabilities and operations.
What do we do to make it happen?
On a national basis we undertake independent research, public education programs and public-interest advocacy:
- We contribute informed commentary to public, academic and professional debates on a wide range of national security issues and encourage our members to do so as individual citizens.
- We undertake a wide range of activities to educate and brief the broader Australian community about strategic security, defence and other national security issues;
- We provide public-interest monitoring of Australian national security policy and its execution.
- For nearly four decades we have been invited to make public-interest submissions to parliamentary machinery-of-government committees and parliamentary and official inquiries. Especially those conducted by all-party parliamentary oversight bodies such as the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (JSCFADT) and the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS).
- Print, radio and television media regularly consult with us when seeking research guidance, long-term perspectives, historical and contempory contexts, background detail or other informed comment on strategic policy, defence capability, intelligence, domestic security, international affairs and related issues.
- We maintain liaison and informal co-operation on international security and related matters with counterpart national public-interest watchdog organisations, research institutes and scholars in 12 allied and friendly countries across the Pacific basin.
Who are our members and supporters?
- ADA Membership is open to all Australians who believe in the need for informed and effective public debate about:
- Australia's strategic security and our common defence;
- our domestic security as a national community; and
- a logical and practical balance between potentially competing needs for community security, civil liberties and national investment priorities.
- As a broadly community-based organisation our members include Australians from all walks of life.
- Fewer than one third of our members have ever served in our defence force, a police force or with one of our intelligence and security agencies (although many have).
- We are not a professional or representative body for the Australian Defence Force. Nor are we an ex-Service organisation, a defence industry body or any other sectional interest.
- Further detail on who we are, what we do, and why and how we do it, can be found on our frequently-asked-questions pages.