Letters: 2012

Letters-to-the-editor by the Australia Defence Association 01 January - 31 December 2012

ABC coverage: The problem of partisan bias

The Australia Defence Association is widely acknowledged as a genuinely non-partisan public-interest watchdog. As an organisation whose public-interest advocay also necessarily requires extensively interaction with the media, the ADA notes that discussion of partisan bias in ABC programs seems to be missing several of the key points actually involved. This includes the continuing decline of professional standards within journalism overall and the inability of journalism as a purported profession to arrest or reverse the decline by self-regulating such standards.

Debating Australia's modern strategic security

Some opinion comment on the Chief of Army's recent academic address at the University of Canberra has completely missed the point, through either outdated thinking or straight out ideological or sectional bias.

David Hicks: Partisan apologists do not help the truth or indeed Hicks

The complex legal situation applying to David Hicks can cause confusion, but there is no excuse when ideological or emotive apologists for Hicks disregard or twist the facts to obscure objective discussion of the important issues involved.

White Papers: Under-investment

Critcism that the intentions and programs in the new "Australia in the Asian Century" economic white paper are mostly unfunded will surely have considerable resonance for those familiar with the failings of all the Defence White Papers since 1976.

White Papers: Non-delivery of promised investment

Critcism that the intentions and programs in the new "Australia in the Asian Century" economic white paper are mostly unfunded will surely have considerable resonance for those familiar with the failings of all the Defence White Papers since 1976.

David Hicks: Continuing confusion about the laws applying

The entirely lawful internment of David Hicks as a captured belligerent under the Laws of Armed Conflict remains a completely separate matter to the legality or not of his later criminal trial and conviction by a US military commission.

Defence Department: Problems are mainly structural and financial

Continuing problems in the Department of Defence are mainly due to two reasons. First, insufficient investment by the Government and poor recognition that the capabilities they say they need require additional funding. Second, deep-seated structural inefficiencies in accountabilities, how the department is organised and how operational outputs are met. They are not due to either the civil bureaucracy or the defence force having too much power overall or in supposed competition with each other.

Defence: The real reasons behind the latest ructions

Much public commentary about the sudden departure of the Secretary of the Department of Defence, Duncan Lewis, has unfortunately concentrated on the personalities involved and not the structural causes.

Treachery: Applying objectivity to arguments that assist the enemy

Because of reciprocal citizenship resonsibilities every Australian needs to think first, and deeply, before advancing arguments in public or private that might assist the enemy we send our troops to fight on our behalf. Intentional or reckless disregard for these responsibilities can be treacherous.

Treachery: Preserving the distinction from responsible dissent

No Australian has a right to dissent so absolute that it somehow over-rides their reciprocal responsibilities as a citizen not to endanger our troops in Afghanistan or elsewhere.

Treachery: Subjective reactions to reform proposals

Some critics of the ADA's proposal to criminalise reckless as well as intentional acts that assist the enemy have again resorted to fibs, abuse and straw-man arguments. Rather than explain how, as they claim, such reforms to our treachery laws could limit reasonable and legitimate dissent and objective and informed debate.

Treachery: Further reform to our treachery laws is needed

Our treachery laws rightly outlaw assisting the enemy if it is intentional and an act. Given some recent thoughtless, irresponsible and even callous behaviour, reckless acts should also now be outlawed.

Treachery: Further law reform needed

Our treachery laws rightly outlaw assisting the enemy if the assistance is both intentional and an act. Given recent subjective, thoughtless and irresponsible claims which mindlessly parrot or spread factually incorrect enemy propaganda, reckless acts of assistance should also now be prohibited.

Afghanistan: Please debate the war responsibly and sensitively

Debate the war by all means, but at least have the consideration and sensitivity to wait a week or two while the grief of each digger's family peaks.

Asylum Policy: Discussion of Houston panel report ignores pitfalls ahead

Asylum and refugee policy remains primarily a strategic issue with domestic ramifications, not the opposite as many incorrectly assume.

Asylum Policy: Houston panel succeeds in defusing much of the politicisation

Asylum and refugee policy remains primarily a strategic issue with domestic ramifications, not the opposite. Despite the Houston panel clinically removing most of the party-political controversy out of public debate, much subsequent discussion ignores the geo-political realities actually applying and is instead still bogged down in false assumptions, single-issue perspectives and mis-aimed (local only) compassion. Any debate on this issue needs to start from Australia's geo-political situation, not ignore or downplay it by dwelling on only domestic policy aspects.

Procurement: Patrol boat woes

Stress fractures in the hulls of the Navy's hard-worked patrol boat fleet are not the result of the high operational tempo per se. They are really a symptom of not building the right type of boat in the first place despite ADF professional and wider scientific advice to do so. This short-sighted decision was insisted on by the then government to supposedly save money but, like all such politically expedient decisions, it costs the taxpayer much more over the long run as well as resulting in considerable operational costs and risks for our defence force.

Alarmism about Australia-US-China relations

The recent Pentagon-funded think-tank report by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) discussing options for future redeployments of US forces across the Asia-Pacific actually says quite different things to what much of the Australian media are reporting it says.

Public Affairs: Addressing all the problems

As he often does with his "reporting" about our defence force, an opinion article by Ian McPhedran tells only half the story about the problematic interfaces between the Minister for Defence, the Department of Defence and our defence force on one hand, and the media and the Australian people on the other.

ADF Basing: Fleet Base East

The Gillard Government's backtracking on limiting cruise-ship access to the naval base at Garden Island again elevates party-political expediency and local pork-barrelling above the national interest.

ADF Basing: Fleet Base East at Garden Island

Decisions about national defence should be long-term national interest matters and well above party politics, political expediency and day-to-day politicking. As with this year's federal budget slashing defence investment (at greater eventual and long-term financial and operational cost), so the decision to allow even more cruise ship access to national defence infrastructure at Fleet Base East in Sydney Harbour demonstrates another classic example of a government that puts the quest for short-term political advantage above any apparent thought for the needs of actual governance in the national interest.

ADF Misbehaviour: Why there is no respect

A correction to an opinion article based entirely on the incorrect claim that serious crimes within the ADF were and are not investigated by civil police. The article also misunderstood why the behaviour of the Minister for Defence is not respected across former and serving defence force personnel.

Afghanistan: SASR soldier killed in action on his 7th operational tour

Much public discussion about the tragedy of our latest casualty in Afghanistan is missing the real point involved about his large number of operational tours.

ADF capabilities: Amphibious manouvre

Critics of the new amphibious ships the ADF is getting either do not understand, or wilfully misrepresent, the amphibious manouvre capabilities Australia needs in our near region.

Defence investment: The siren song to under-invest

Columnist Ben Herscovitch advances some new lyrics but still to the usual tired music of the siren song that defence investment can somehow be safely slashed.

Defence investment timescales

AFR columnist Brian Toohey's analysis of defence investment needs is fundamentally flawed due to false assumptions.

ADF Basing: Cruise ship access in Sydney Harbour

Major defence force facilities are essential national infrastructure. State and local governments have no right to try and steal them from taxpayers nationally to cover shortfalls or worse in their own planning and investment.

Strategic security: Isolationist fallacies

The Age's political editor oddly dredges up several long-disproven isolationist strategic fallacies

ADF Capabilities: Army size

Pointing out the facts in answer to yet another polemic from Hugh White.

Procurement: Institutionalised difficulties

An answer to a recent letter that exemplifies much of the public confusion on key defence planning issues.

ADF Capabilities: Amphibious manouvre

Critics of the poor state of our amphibious fleet need to stop blaming the victim - our Navy.

ADFA: Looking after both victims

Yet more uninformed criticism of the ADA when the truth could easily be learned by a modicum of research and objectivity.


Ministerial control of our defence force is not somehow absolute. As in any Westmister-system democracy it must still comply with the Constitution and the law.

ADF Misbehaviour: Inappropriate use of social media

Racist, sexist or otherwise stupid comments by some soldiers on social media are unacceptable morally and professionally counter-productive.

ADF Basing: Gold Coast naval base not possible

The suggestion that a naval base should be established on the Gold Coast omits the obvious constraint that there is no suitable harbour.

ADFA: Continued public confusion

Uninformed critics of the ADA surely could at least try to learn what our stance on an issue actually is.

ADFA: Hot-issue-brief proves allegations are incorrect

The release of the relevant "hot issue brief" completely disproves the wild allegations made at the time that the Commandant and staff at ADFA had somehow acted inappropriately on learning of the non-consensual filming incident among two first-year cadets in their first ten weeks at the Academy.

Asylum policy: Inability to deport failed asylum seekers

The growing inability to deport both failed and assessed asylum seekers who pose a security risk if granted Australian residency requires resolution.

ADF capabilities: Gender equality

The many women in our defence force currently serving in frontline positions cannot understand the mindset that so readily and continually ignores that they exist, perform superbly, and are best equipped to offer expert and professional opinions on female employment in combat roles and gender-relations in the defence force generally.

ADFA: Justice needed for both victims

There continue to be two victims of last year's scandal at ADFA. Both also continue to deserve justice.

ADFA: Kirkham Report now well overdue

The attitude and consequent behaviour of the Minister for Defence unfortunately remains the biggest obstacle in achieving justice for both victims of last year's scandal at ADFA. He can, however, easily fix this.

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