Welcome to the Australia Defence Association (www.ada.asn.au)
Who are we?
Since 1975 the ADA has been Australia's only truly independent and non-partisan public-interest watchdog and 'think-tank' on strategic security, defence and wider national security issues.
What do we do?
We seek to represent the long-term public interest in helping ensure Australia is strategically and domestically secure.
Including that current and future Australians are adequately defended.
Our 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, Australia's six intelligence and security agencies, and the effectiveness of their supporting departments.
What do we believe?
We consider that ten key principles underly the long-term preservation of Australia's strategic and domestic security:
- Australia's strategic security — including our liberty, common defence and sovereign freedom of action — is the first responsibility of every Australian government.
- Ensuring Australia's strategic security is also a universal civic responsibility of every Australian.
- Our strategic security involves furthering and protecting our vital national interests, not just defending Australian territory.
- Geo-strategically, our surrounding oceans and seas are two-way maritime highways, not defensive "moats".
- Living on an island-continent, and fundamentally dependent on seaborne trade, our whole modern way-of-life principally depends on helping the international system to work, legally, commercially, strategically and morally.
- As a minor maritime power, our strategic security is ultimately dependent on collective defence alliances and arrangements with fellow maritime powers, both regionally and globally.
- Our defence capabilities are essential national infrastructure for the protection of Australia's future.
- Adequate investment in developing and sustaining our long-term defence capabilities is essential, not somehow discretionary. Inter-generational equity also means we must not inflict greater strategic risk on future generations of Australians by not paying our fair share now of the long-term, and sustained, national investment required.
- Such protection needs to be be focused on countering general strategic risks over the long term with flexible and adaptable defence capabilities. Not by narrowly and inflexibly targeting defence capabilities against specific "threats" as we (usually unsuccessfully in a long-term context) perceive them now.
- National unity, national will, economic strength, free speech, informed 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 an independent national public-interest watchdog organisation — with a necessarily non-partisan and long-term perspective — we 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 with a long-term focus;
- a practical and effective balance between potentially competing needs for civil liberties, community security and short-term budgetary priorities versus long-term national investment needs;
- 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 provide public-interest monitoring of Australian national security policy and its execution.
- We try to update or educate the broader Australian community about strategic security, defence and other national security issues;
- We contribute informed commentary to public, academic and professional debates and encourage our members to do so as individual citizens.
- 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 across the Indo-Pacific basins.
Who are our members and supporters?
- As a broadly community-based organisation our members include Australians from all walks of life.
- 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.
- The vast majority of ADA members have never 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.