Australia Defence Association executive director Neil James has written to Crikey to
correct the comments made by Crikey’s “defence desk” last week:

May we correct a number of factual errors and obvious
misconceptions on your part regarding ADA comments on the Sea King crash in
Nias.

We have always been the “Australia” Defence Association not the
“Australian” Defence Association. A relatively minor point but its like calling
it “Kricky” in your case.

Your suggestion that we were too quick out the
box last Sunday is an interesting one given the ADA’s role as the national
public interest guardian organisation for defence matters. This is especially so
when all day Sunday and Monday we continually stressed that it was far too early
to speculate in detail on the causes of the crash and that such speculation was
unnecessarily distressing to the families of those killed.

We also put
in considerable effort behind the scenes all day Sunday trying to stop the media
from bothering the families of those lost or causing them further distress
through speculation as to the causes of the crash. This is why we limited our
comments to discussion of some results of such crashes and, in answer to
constant questions about the age of the Sea King fleet, our comment that overall
constraints on defence funding have kept aircraft fleets such as the Sea Kings
from being replaced on the schedule originally envisaged.

Our opinion
piece in The Australian on the following day discussed all these points.
The article has been widely considered to be a good one, even by some of our
critics, with most criticism generated by the nature of the accompanying
editorial cartoon – a matter for which we had no knowledge or
control.

The idea that the ADA somehow represents the interests of “big
defence contractors” is just bizarre and shows zero research into the role,
structure, activities, history and reputation of the Association. This is like
accusing the Australian Conservation Foundation of just being a mouthpiece for
Gunns or some other forestry company.

Even the most cursory research
would have shown that the ADA is the national, community-based, public interest
watchdog for national security issues not a mouthpiece for any commercial or
sectional interest.

Read the rest of Neil’s letter and the original ADA item on the site here.

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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