STATEMENT OF POLICY
For the maintenance of the Maritime wellbeing of the nation.
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 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 many respects has become much less certain following increasing tensions in East Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The League believes that Australia should rapidly increase 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 all nations in our general area particularly New Zealand, PNG and the South Pacific island States.
- Advocates the acquisition of the most capable modern armaments, surveillance systems and sensors to ensure technological advantage over forces in our general area.
- Advocates a strong deterrent element in the ADF 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, in conjunction with allies.
- Endorses the development of the capability for the patrol and surveillance of all of Australia’s ocean areas, its island territories and the Southern Ocean.
- Advocates Government initiatives for rebuilding an Australian commercial fleet capable of supporting the ADF and the carriage of essential cargoes to and from Australia in times of conflict.
- Welcomes the 2016 Defence White Paper and the Government intention to increase maritime preparedness and gradually increase defence expenditure to 2% of GDP.
- Urges the strength and capabilities of the Army (including particularly the Army Reserve) and Air Force be enhanced, and the weaponry, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, cyberspace and electronic capabilites of the ADF be increased, including an expansion in its UAV capability.
As to the RAN, the League, while noting 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.
- Considers that the level of both the offensive and defensive capabilities of the RAN should be strengthened, in particular with a further increase in the number of new proposed replacement frigates and Offshore Patrol Vessels, noting the escort requirements of our 5 new major warships and the many other essential maritime tasks.
- Recommends bringing forward the start date of the replacement frigate program.
- Recommends the timely replacement and increase in numbers of the current mine-countermeasure force.
- Strongly supports the early acquisition of large, long range and endurance, fast submarines and notes the deterrent value, reliability and huge operational advantages of nuclear powered submarines and their value in training anti-submarine forces.
- The League is concerned at the very long time before the projected 12 new conventional submarines can enter operational service, noting the increasing tensions and major changes now taking place in international relationships.
- Recommends very early action to provide a submarine base on the Eastern seaboard.
- Notes the potential combat effectiveness and flexibility of the STOVL version of the Joint Strike Fighter (F35 Lightning II) 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, submarines and support vessels in the Navy’s order of battle, and welcomes the Government decision to provide a stable and continuous shipbuilding program.
- Supports the efforts by Navy to rebuild the engineering capability to ensure effective Fleet maintenance and sustainability.
- Advocates the retention in 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.
- 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.