Issues index

This alphabetical-order index provides direct access to background information and comment by the Australia Defence Association on important, longstanding or recurring strategic security, defence and wider national security issues.

Asylum & refugee policy

Asylum and refugee issues are first and foremost a matter of strategic policy because they are just one part of our broader and longer-term strategic relationships with neighbouring countries. But instead of acknowledging this, the vast bulk of public (and party-political) argument on asylum and refugee matters has long tended to consider them as wholly or mainly a domestic policy matter. Argument thus continually revolves around the recurrent symptoms of Australia’s dilemma, rather than seriously examine and fix its actual strategic, legal and moral causes. This narrow focus on the domestic symptoms, not the strategic causes or cures, is both ineffective and immoral.


ADA discussion paper on the strategic utility and citizenship equity of military national service schemes.

Control orders

Control orders are a controversial but necessary part of modernised counter-terrorism laws. But only if stringent safeguards are in place.


Why the operational, oceanographic and climatic conditions of Australian waters mean our Navy must have at least some larger surface combatants - destroyers.

DNA database for the ADF

A compulsory DNA database for defence force personnel deploying overseas on operations, in order to assist with potential post-mortem identification of fatal casualties, makes sense. Although instances of casualties being classified missing presumed dead, or unidentified, declined dramatically over the course of the 20th Century, the enduring nature of combat means the proposal has merit – but only if it involves stringent privacy safeguards. These safeguards must be enshrined by statute and include severe penalties (including lengthy imprisonment) for abuses.

Garden Island naval base in Sydney

Public discussion about the lack of cruise-ship infrastructure in Sydney Harbour, and calls for greater dual-use of the naval base at Garden Island as a "solution", avoid that this issue is actually another manifestation of the faltering federal-state compact.

Mortimer Review

2008 Review into defence procurement and sustainment.

National Service

ADA discussion paper on the strategic utility and citizenship equity of military national service schemes.

Recruiting Pacific islanders for the ADF

The supposed option of recruiting ‘Pacific Islanders’ to fill recruiting shortfalls in the ADF is a good example of a brainstorming bullet point seeing the light of day before the rest of the brain, including the conscience, became engaged. The quality of subsequent public discussion on the proposal has been greatly circumscribed by divergent views on what exactly is being suggested, particularly whether such islanders would be standard immigrants or some form of ‘guest worker’ serving in a quasi-Foreign Legion or Brigade of Gurkhas equivalent. Much of the debate also ignores that the ADF already recruits widely overseas among experienced and qualified military personnel who satisfy standard specialist skills shortage criteria for immigration – including in New Zealand and other Pacific Islands. If we assume, however, that Pacific Islanders might be recruited to the ADF under some form of relaxed immigration standards – or as temporary entrant workers – a range of moral, economic, political and practical challenges arise.

Tank myths

Dispelling ten commonplace myths that are advanced subjectively from time to time to claim that our defence force supposedly does not need any modern tanks (even though we now have only 59 of them).

Torture warrants

The terms interrogation and torture are often wrongly confused or conflated in public discourse, due in part to commonplace fears about learning enough detail to tell them apart. A failure to adequately distinguish between the two has detrimental consequences for the legitimacy, authorisation and control of effective interrogation as a means of intelligence gathering, and indeed for the outlawing of torture.

Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs)

Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs) fully satisfy Australia's obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention but are generally not debated objectively. Discussion unfortunately tends to focus on some failures in their administration during the early 2000s, rather than the principles and policy integrity underlying this type of visa. This ADA discussion paper covers the ten advantages of TPVs.

Treachery laws

All Australians have a reciprocal citizenship obligation not to assist an enemy our government deploys our defence force to fight. Sedition and treachery laws are therefore essential and in no way affect peaceful and responsible democratic dissent.

Uranium sales to India

If Australia is to sell uranium to India what safeguards should be put in place.

War-making power

Under the Westminster system the constitutional authority to take Australia to war is exercised, as an executive (Crown) prerogative by the Prime-Minister and the Cabinet. The power to fund a war remains with Parliament. Tinkering with the time-tested checks and balances involved needs careful thought, not political grandstanding and simplistic rhetoric. It would have to be done very carefully if, for example, all the powers for prosecuting a war were to pass to parliament and require a majority vote in both houses. These checks and balances are not well understood generally and public debate reflects this.

Women in combat

This summary of a very complex and nuanced issue is based on all the factors and implications analysed at length in our comprehensive discussion paper on the subject. We provide this summary here because public debate on the issue of employing female personnel in combat positions is often misinformed or worse. Our discussion paper on this issue includes a section on commonplace myths and false assumptions - put forward reflexively in favour or against such employment - in order to remind public debate of the actual issues involved.

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