How does the ADA preserve its independence and objectivity as a public-interest watchdog?

We preserve our independence and objectivity by a range of longstanding and well-tested measures. These are explained in the detailed answers to several of the questions in this section (and in our constitution).

This is particularly so in the questions relating to:

  • our long-term public-interest guardianship approach;
  • actively non-partisan stance and apolitical perspective;
  • public and accountable structure;
  • non-affiliated status; and
  • transparent finances.

Furthermore, as noted in the answers to previous questions, our research and advocacy efforts are not directed by our corporate (or institutional) members or donors.


Objectivity testing

Sometimes in public debate, however, our independence or objectivity is questioned. 

Our experience over more than four decades is that such claims are usually made without those making them demonstrating much if any knowledge or understanding of:

  • the ADA's public-interest watchdog role,
  • our independent and non-partisan nature, and
  • our  well-tested institutional safeguards to protect the integrity and transparency of both aspects.

In some cases, partisan, ideological or other sectional assumptions or biases are clearly behind the questioning of our independent status, however consciously or unconsciously.

Sometimes, for example, we are accused by some on either side of politics — but usually from those towards the extremes of the political spectrum and especially by single-issue activists or other types of polemicist — of somehow subjectively representing the views of the accuser's opponents just because we have criticised their claims on factual or conceptual grounds.

Rather than such attempted critics acknowledging the ADA has actually addressed the issue concerned on it merits.

Such occasional over-reactions to our contributions can become become markedly sharper, or simply knee-jerk responses, in cases where in the interests of public debate being fully informed we have had to refute the assumptions, supposed "facts" or other biases behind particularly sectional or polemical claims.

Our experience, again, is that this type of partisan or ideological accusation directed at the ADA instead tends to emphasise instead the particular biases — and often the extreme degree of them — of those over-reacting with such an allegation.


Media oversight and commentary

The ADA takes its responsibility to contribute to informed public debate seriously. We naturally expect others to do the same.

This can involve us seeking to counter the unhelpful effects of uninformed, inaccurate, sensationalist or insensitive media coverage of strategic security, defence and wider national security issues.

In particular, our public-interest watchdog role occasionally requires us to criticise security breaches or other unthinking reporting by the media that endangers the lives, general wellbeing, morale or operational missions of Australian and allied forces.

Such criticism and objective analysis is not always well received by some elements of the media.

We have therefore occasionally met with claims from the odd journalist, columnist or commentator that we are somehow not objective. For example, that we might be merely 'mouthpieces' or 'apologists' for the views of senior ADF officers, officials in the Department of Defence or the men and women of the defence force generally.

Such allegations are invariably made by unsubstantiated assertions. They have to be just assertions because the evidence from ADA activities over the last four decades clearly proves the opposite.

In the few cases where supposed evidence has been offered for such an allegation, this is either where something we have said or done has been misrepresented and/or recounted out of context. Or, more rarely, has been a case where the purported evidence was simply concocted by our media accuser.

Moreover, our experience is that such allegations tend to reflect one or more of three phenomena involving the journalist, columnist or commentator concerned:

  • sloppy research or other unprofessional lapses;

  • their own partisan-political biases or other prejudices; or

  • an unprofessional, and at times even malicious, personal or institutional reaction to reasoned ADA criticism of uninformed, biased, sensationalist or insensitive reporting.

We confidently maintain that no respected and serious journalist, columnist or commentator covering strategic security, defence or wider national security issues believes that the ADA is not truly independent and objective in its public-interest watchdog role and activities.



Any honest and proper study of the ADA's public record — such as numerous favourable citations by both sides of politics recorded in Hansard — clearly demonstrates our independence, objectivity and informed, long-term-focused, views.

Our submissions to parliamentary and official inquiries, and the measured criticism in our publications and other public commentary, provide further and consistent examples of our independence, non-partisanship and objectivity. 

We stand by our longstanding reputation in this regard.

We consider that allegations of supposed bias — especially from accusers who are themselves genuinely biased or otherwise compromised — simply bolster our well-established reputation for independence, non-partisanship and objectivity.


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