A Change at the Helm of the Navy League

Graham Harris

At the Navy League of Australia’s Annual General Meeting held in Canberra on 13 October 2017 long-serving President, CMDR Graham Harris RFD** RANR (Rtd) retired after 23 years at the helm of the League.

Graham Harris graduated in law from the University of Melbourne and practised as a barrister from 1961 to 1994, with a break from 1980 to 1983 when he entered Federal Parliament as the member for the Victorian seat of Chisholm in the House of Representatives. During his time in Parliament he served on three Government Committees — Defence, Law and Government and Health and Welfare — becoming Chairman of the latter in 1982. He had become involved with the Liberal Party of Australia in 1960 and continued to be active in the party until 2009. In 2006 the Federal Executive of the Party awarded him the Liberal Party Distinguished Service Award.

After his time in Parliament, Graham returned to active legal practice until June 1994, when he became more deeply involved with business interests.

From his earliest days Graham Harris had a deep interest in the Navy. In 1964 he was invited to join the RANR Intelligence Division (NID) of which he was an active member from April 1965 to July 1993. In 1972 he spent some time in Canberra working with the Joint Intelligence Organisations (now the Defence Intelligence Organisation) and was promoted to Lieutenant Commander RANR in June 1974. In the mid-1970s he became involved in the training of intelligence officers throughout Australia.

LCDR Harris was awarded the Reserve Force Decoration in 1985, was promoted to Commander in June 1985 and became Senior Officer NID Victoria in January 1986. A new position of Senior Officer NID was created in 1989 (later titled Director Naval Intelligence (Reserves)) and Graham was appointed to this position as the senior naval officer for NID in Australia. He left the position of DNI(R) in July 1993 and moved to the retired list in August 1997.

Graham joined the Navy League of Australia in 1973, at a time when it had relinquished the task of running the Naval Cadets (a role taken over by the Department of Defence) and was developing a role as an advocate for the Navy in Australia. He joined the Executive of the Victorian Division, becoming President of the Division in 1992 when he became deeply involved in securing the future of Osborne House at Geelong, the first home of the RAN Naval College.

Election as Federal President of the Navy League of Australia followed in 1994. The following 23 years were to be a very busy time for Graham with the corporate restructure of the League and its Branches, the sorting out of the League’s properties, the revival of the Queensland Division and the preparation of many reports and submissions to Government, Parliamentary Committees, the Department of Defence and the Royal Australian Navy. During this period Keeping Watch: A History of the Navy League of Australia 1895–2015 was written by Malcolm Longstaff and published by the League.
Graham Harris decided to retire as Federal President in 2017 and hand over the helm to a younger generation. His leadership of the League for 23 active years was outstanding and all members who worked with him during those years will always remember the experience with warmth and respect.

At the 2017 AGM, Mr Matthew Rowe was elected Federal President of the League. Matthew also has a legal background as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of South Australia, a solicitor of the High Court of Australia and the Supreme Court of Queensland. He is a nationally-accredited mediator and Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner.
A Lieutenant Commander in the RAN Reserve, Matthew has served as the military aide to Her Excellency Dame the Hon. Quentin Bryce AD CVO and was chosen by the Queensland Governor, Her Excellency Ms Penelope Wensley AC, to represent Her Excellency and the Queensland people in officially welcoming HRH Prince William of Wales to Queensland during the 2011 Royal visit.

In 2001 Matthew was the relief Commanding Officer of the National Sail Training Ship Young Endeavour, and has been awarded the Australian Service Medal for service enforcing United Nations sanctions on Iraq and a Certificate of Achievement in the 1999 Young Australian of the Year Awards.

Matthew Rowe is currently Chief Executive Officer of the Queensland Maritime Museum having previously served two three-year terms as an invited director of the Museum.



Articles and Published Papers

Submissions to Inquiries

The Navy League of Australia makes submissions to Government Inquiries on matters relevant to League policy and interests.

Copies of recent submissions can be downloaded here.

Senate Submission – Shipping legislation 2015

Senate Submission – Flags of Convenience

Defence White Paper 2015

Senate shipbuilding inquiry July 2014

Defence White Paper 2013

Sydney Cruise Ship Berthing Review 2011

Inquiry into Coastal Shipping Policy and Regulation

Defence White Paper 2009

Inquiry into Overseas Service Bill 2008


Nuclear Powered Submarines for Australia

Three members of the Navy League of Australia, Rear Admiral Andrew Robertson AO DSC RAN (Retd.), Rear Admiral David Holthouse AO RAN (Retd.) and Rear Admiral Chris Wood RN (Retd.) gave a presentation in late November 2010 on Nuclear Powered Submarines to the Nuclear Engineering Panel of Engineers Australia (Sydney Branch).

The text of their presentation can be downloaded here:

Nuclear Powered Submarine Paper Nov 2010 (PDF 1.5MB)

Warren Centre Project to Evaluate Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

The announcement of a project initiated by The Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering in Sydney (NSW) in 2011 to independently evaluate the technical, commercial and regulatory challenges for the implementation of small modular nuclear reactors to meet some of the future energy needs of Australia can be downloaded using the following link:

TWC – SMNRs – SNPR Flyer v2 0 06 07 11 (PDF 80kb)

Why Australia Needs Nuclear Submarines

In November 2011 The Diplomat published an article by Ross Babbage entitled ‘Why Australia Needs Nuclear Submarines’. To read the article and the subsequent discussion visit The Diplomat here.

Vale Keith Adams

Keith Adams AM
Keith Adams AM

Long-serving Vice President of the NSW Division of the Navy League, Keith Martin Adams AM, passed away after a long battle with cancer on 15 November 2013.

Born in Mosman on 16 December 1927, Keith began a career in science in the research laboratories of the Royal North Shore Hospital. He began work with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in 1952, studying antibody responses to various injected antigens. This work included trials with some strains of the influenza virus and some pox viruses. The studies led to large-scale cultivation of the viruses and, in particular, the myxoma virus, a highly contagious virus to rabbits with a high mortality rate.

In 1960 Keith took up a research post with the Veteran’s Administration Hospital and University of Miami Medical School in the United States, moving his young family to Florida for two years. During that time he established two tissue-culture laboratories and introduced research studies into the cultivation and study of leukemic blood cells. He also won a place in the Harvard Medical School in Boston to attend the accelerated course in pathology.

Keith returned to the CSIRO in 1963 and continued work with the myxoma virus which was eventually released to the wild rabbit populations which plagued many parts of Australia with devastating results. Between 1970 and 1972, along with an officer from the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife service, Keith was responsible for the release of the myxoma virus to control rabbits on Macquarie Island, a sub-Antarctic island and research post of the Australian Antarctic Division.

In 1976 Keith was seconded to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in Canberra where he became the Executive Secretary of the Marine Sciences and Technologies Committee (AMSTAC) which was part of the Australian Science Technology Council (ASTEC). His duties included the preparation of reports and studies and advice to the Government on future directions of marine activities. As Science Advisor he was involved in the preparation and presentation of a submission in support of the provision of a national oceanographic research vessel and was a member and secretary of the steering committee for the construction of the research vessel. RV Franklin was built by NQEA in Cairns in 1985 and was based at the Marine Science Laboratories in Hobart.

On returning to the CSIRO Keith was appointed to oversee the construction of the new Marine Science Laboratories in Hobart. He was also tasked with moving the CSIRO Marine Laboratories from Cronulla in NSW to Hobart.

Keith retired from the CSIRO and government service in 1987. During his scientific career he published as author or co-author some 30 papers and reports and a number of reviews of scientific programs.

After 1989 Keith undertook a range of tasks, such as consultant to the Director of Marketing of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Executive Manager reporting to the Managing Director of ABC Datacast and company secretary of the Australian subsidiary of an American IT company.

Throughout his life Keith Adams loved the sea, a passion which crept into his working life before and after retirement. For over 40 years Keith was an active member of the Royal Australian Naval Reserve, commencing as a Naval Cadet in his youth and in due course becoming an officer in the Naval Reserve. His duties in the RANR included reporting on training activities at the RAN’s Gunnery School at HMAS Cerberus, Commanding Officer of the Naval Reserve Cadets and the implementation of new training methods at HMAS Nirimba. He also reviewed the RAN Hydrographic Services offices and facilities and subsequently made recommendations for the relocation and upgrading of those facilities.

On 26 January 1980 Commander Keith Adams RFD RANR was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for service to the Naval Reserve Cadets.

In retirement Keith continued his interest in the Naval Reserve Cadets and the Navy more generally through his involvement with the Navy League of Australia.

In 1995 Keith Adams joined the Australian Division of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects as Executive Officer for the Australian Division Council. It was a time of reorganisation of the Council and the Australian Division to make it more relevant to the changing times and the widespread membership throughout Australia. Keith was also a member of the organising committee for the Pacific series of International Maritime Conferences, an involvement he continued after he retired from his position in 2009 until advancing ill health finally forced him to take a lower profile.

Keith is survived by Shirley, his wife for more than 60 years, his daughters Elizabeth and Jane and son Stephen, and seven grand children.

John Jeremy, with the help of Keith’s family

Vale Geoffrey Evans

Past Federal President of the Navy League of Australia (1972-1994), CMDR Geoffrey Evans OBE RANR (Retd.) passed away in June 2012.

A tribute by John Bird, a former Federal Vice President of the Navy League of Australia, can be downloaded here:

Vale Geoffrey Evans