Opinion articles by the Australia Defence Association: 2016-17
As a people-based force, and as the defence force of a liberal democracy, the ADF optimally needs to represent the diversity of the society it comes from and protects. Australian society also needs to understand the ADF and be willing to support it - including by serving in the force. When citizens of any democracy are unwilling to understand the defence needs of their country, or are reluctant to help defend their society by military service or other support, the country (not just its defence force) has a serious problem. Some of the more intractable of these problems cannot be solved by the ADF no matter how much goodwill, innovation and additional resourcing is applied. Australian society as a whole must solve them.
Appropriate ministerial supervision of the Defence portfolio has long faced significant structural barriers to good governance, including an insufficient number of ministers, diluting the focus and workload of junior ministers by double-hatting them in other portfolios, and constant arbitrary changes to the functional responsibilities and even titles of junior ministers. These and other structural problems generally occur because party and factional politics, and short-term political expediency, are prioritised over good governance and the long-term business continuity needed for national defence as a major responsibility of any government. Particularly when this responsibility needs an above-politics and indisputably national-interest focus over a very long term. Governments of all political persuasions need to put much more thought and action into the needs of adequate portfolio governance, particularly how they allocate ministers to the Defence portfolio and how they structure such ministerial supervision in terms of both numbers and responsibilities. Rather than as usually occurs - and based solely or chiefly on political convenience - focusing just on who they can appoint and how few they can get away with appointing without it looking too embarrassing.