How is ADA policy derived and implemented?

To fulfill the ADA's public-interest watchdog role, our contributions to public-policy debate primarily stem from the foundation provided by our fiercely independent and staunchly non-partisan structure.

The effectiveness of our contributions is enhanced by our well-refined and speedy decision-making and consultative mechanisms. These are actively supervised by the Board of Directors on behalf of our membership. 

On a day-to-day basis, ADA commentary is assisted by the long-term perspectives, balance, historical knowledge and professional interpretation we have long brought to issues of current public and media interest. Especially where such public discussion, even if only initially, is instead short-term focused, not well informed of the factors involved, politicised, emotive, sensationalised or otherwise subjective.

The breadth, depth and public-interest motivation of our membership across the Australian community are key strengths in our capacity to provide informed commentary.

In terms of the fundamental policies and broad guidelines needed, ADA policy is formally determined by our members at general meetings or by referenda. More detailed policy deliberations within the guidelines are generally delegated to the board of directors elected by the wider membership.

A culture of informal consultations with ADA Chapters and individual members are a valuable mechanism for researching and formulating policy.

We use expert advisory panels of volunteers among our membership to:

  • help derive policy and formulate comment;
  • research the technical, historical, financial or other specialist aspects of specific issues; and
  • assist with our submissions to parliamentary and official inquiries.

The day-to-day public comment sought from the ADA's official spokesman by the media is greatly assisted by advice from our expert panels.

Our submissions to official and parliamentary inquiries are prepared by specially constituted expert working groups. All submissions involve wide internal and external consultation and are approved by the ADA board of directors before submission. Where unusual controversy may arise, drafts are further circulated for general comment on the members-only section of the ADA website.

In terms of helping keep the wider political process honest we also conduct mediated workshops for political parties reviewing their policies on defence and wider national security issues.

These have been undertaken, for example, at Liberal Party triennial national conventions and  ALP biennial national conferences. We have also contributed to policy development round-tables convened by the Australian Greens and the National Party of Australia.

As a standing offer, these types of policy development support are also available to all the other parties represented in federal parliament.

Under our constitution (Articles 19-20) and executive processes, the federal executive director of the ADA is our only representative authorised to speak on behalf of the Association (with another spokesperson appointed by the Board of Directors if the executive director is unavailable).

This single point-of-contact provision was instituted from the ADA's earliest days to reinforce the integrity, accuracy, consistency, speed and currency of our contributions to informed public debate.

Our members are strongly encouraged to participate in public debate as individual citizens but cannot claim to act for, speak on behalf of, or otherwise represent the Association in doing so.

Within this proviso, our members are free, and encouraged, to declare their ADA membership should they so desire.

The code-of-conduct for ADA members participating in public debate is detailed in the members-only section of this website.

In keeping with the principles and requirements of the Commonwealth Privacy Act, 1988, the ADA does not identify individual contributors to our internal policy-making or otherwise confirm or provide individual membership details without the permission of the member concerned.


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