STATEMENT OF POLICY

Statement of Policy

The Navy League is intent upon keeping before the Australian people the fact that we are a maritime nation and that a strong Navy and capable maritime industry are indispensable elements of our national wellbeing and vital to the freedom of Australia. The League seeks to promote Defence self reliance by actively supporting defence manufacturing, and the shipping and transport industries.

The strategic background to Australia’s security is changing and in some respects has become less certain. The League believes that Australia should pursue the capability to defend itself, paying particular attention to maritime defence. Through geographical necessity Australia’s prosperity, strength, and safety depend to a great extent upon the security of the surrounding seas and island areas, and on unrestricted seaborne trade.

The Navy League:

  • Believes Australia can be defended against attack by other than a major maritime power and that the prime requirement of our defence is an evident ability to control the sea and air space around us and to contribute to defending essential lines of sea and air communication with our allies.
  • Supports a continuing strong alliance with the US.
  • Supports close relationships with New Zealand, PNG and the South Pacific Island States
  • Supports close relationships with ASEAN, Japan, South Korea, India and China.
  • Advocates the acquisition of the most capable modern armaments, surveillance systems and sensors to ensure that the ADF maintains technological advantage over forces in our general area.
  • Advocates a significant deterrent element in ADF capability enabling powerful retaliation at significant distances from our shores.
  • Believes the ADF must be capable of protecting commercial shipping both within Australian waters and beyond, recognising that this means in conjunction with allies and economic partners.
  • Endorses the control of coastal surveillance by the ADF, and the development of the capability for the patrol and surveillance of all of Australia’s ocean areas, its island territories and the Southern Ocean.
  • Welcomes Government initiatives concerning the recovery of an Australian commercial fleet capable of supporting the ADF and the carriage of essential cargoes to and from Australia in times of conflict.

As to the RAN, the League, while noting the vital national peacetime tasks conducted by Navy, including border protection, flag showing/diplomacy, disaster relief maritime rescue, hydrography and aid to the civil power:

  • Supports the concept of a Navy capable of effective action in war off both the east and west coasts simultaneously and advocates a gradual build-up of the fleet and its afloat support elements to ensure that, in conjunction with the RAAF, this can be sustained against any force which could be deployed in our general area.
  • Believes that the level of both the offensive and defensive capabilities of the RAN should be increased and is concerned to see that the substantial surface and sub-surface capability enhancements contained in the 2009 Defence White Paper should survive the forthcoming 2013 review of Defence capability; in particular a substantially strengthened submarine force, 3 Air Warfare Destroyers (AWDs), 2 landing ships (LHDs), 8 new frigates (Anzac class replacements), a large strategic sealift ship, 20 offshore combatant ships, 6 heavy landing craft and substantial numbers of naval combatant and ASW helicopters. 
  • Strongly supports the acquisition of large, long range and endurance, fast submarines and, noting the deterrent value and huge operational advantages of nuclear powered submarines and their value in training our anti-submarine forces, urges the continued consideration of nuclear power as an option for those vessels.
  • In order to mitigate any industry capability gap following the completion of the AWD program, recommends bringing forward the start date of the planned future frigate (Anzac replacement) program, recognising the much enhanced capability projected for these ships. 
  • Urges that decisions to enhance the strength and capabilities of the Army and Air

Force and to greatly improve the weaponry, and the intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, cyberspace and electronic warfare capabilities of the ADF be implemented.

  • Notes the potential combat effectiveness of the STOVL version of the JSF and supports further examination of its application within the ADF.
  • Supports the development of Australia’s defence industry, including strong research and design organisations capable of the construction and maintenance of all warships and support vessels in the Navy’s order of battle, and recognises the fundamental importance of a stable and continuous shipbuilding program for the retention of design and building skills and the avoidance of costly start up overheads.   
  • Supports the efforts by Navy to rebuild the engineering capability to ensure the effective maintenance and sustainability of the fleet.
  • Advocates the retention in preservation (maintained reserve) of operationally capable ships that are required to be paid off for resource or other economic reasons.
  • Supports a strong Naval Reserve and Australian Navy Cadets organisation.
  • Advocates a strong focus on conditions of service as an effective means of combating recruitment and retention difficulties.

The League:

  • Calls for a bipartisan political approach to national defence with a commitment to a steady long term build up in Australia’s defence capability including the required industrial infrastructure.
  • While recognising budgetary constraints believes that, given leadership by successive governments, Australia can defend itself in the longer term, within acceptable financial, economic and manpower parameters.