President’s message AGM 2018

This is the address given by the president of the Australian Naval Institute, Vice Admiral Peter Jones (retired) on 19 November 2018:

Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you for coming to the 2018 AGM. Your support is greatly appreciated.

As you will hear in the Treasurer’s Report the financial position of the ANI has been further strengthened since the last AGM and importantly we have made an operating surplus.

The ANI has developed over the last three years broadly in accord with our goals laid out in the ANI Strategy 2016-2018. We have improved financially, in our reach to a broader readership, in staging well attended events and fostering awareness about maritime issues. Our membership has hovered between 250-300. We are 261 at the moment. Notably we get new members with every event we hold.

The Council has commenced work on the ANI Strategy 2019-2021. We believe essentially we have two options going forward. Option1 is an incremental improvement of our current model. Option 2 is one of expansion. Will Taylor will expand on this later in the meeting and seek your thoughts. The intent is to use our surplus to help fund the strategy.

I would now briefly like to outline what we have achieved in 2018.


This year the Council has worked hard on making our activities relevant to our members, the broader naval community of interest and our industry partners. I just want to comment on some aspects of this engagement.

The annual dinner with the Vernon Parker Oration received very good feedback and the venue was at near capacity. The Hotel Realm has proved an excellent venue and it should be even better after its refurbishment.

This year’s Orator, John Berry gave a very impassioned speech, which for the first time for the ANI, was reported upon in the mainstream press.

I am pleased to announce to you today that the 2019 Vernon Parker Orator will be Sir Angus Houston.

At the Annual Dinner was also presented for the third year the McNeil Prize. The winner was Mr Andrew Whittaker of Raytheon. The excellent video of the work undertaken by Andrew and his team is something we would like to repeat with future winners.

The McNeil Prize has grown from strength to strength. I would like to acknowledge the work of Tom Phillips and his team and also the distinguished judging panel.

Importantly, the Prize is now starting to get a greater profile. Also because it recognises individual and team achievement over a period we are developing a group of potential nominees as well as getting more in year nominations from industry.

Once again this year we hosted a speaker of opportunity at Russell. This year it was an excellent presentation on the Russian Pacific Fleet by Professor Alexey Muraviev. Among other things these events provided an opportunity to raise our profile with those people working at Russell.

Turning to the Goldrick Seminar, once again the ANI partnered with the UNSW Canberra and the Submarine Institute of Australia. This year we were joined by the Navy as a partner. For the first time we had the Navy, in this case the Chief of Navy himself, select the topic for the Goldrick Seminar. It was on the shipbuilding enterprise. This was a product of the Strategic Partnership we have with Navy.

The Seminar also experimented with a syndicate discussion. This was a way in which the Navy could get ideas to help evolve their Plan Mercator. The feedback was the Navy found this activity a valuable one for them. In addition a number of the presentations have been placed on the UNSW You Tube Channel.

In wash up discussions we would like to continue with partnership arrangements for the 2019 Goldrick Seminar.


The ANI website and the associated email Newsletter are a key element to deliver one of ANI’s core missions:

“To provide a forum for the exchange of ideas concerning subjects related to the Navy and the maritime profession.”

We now have 1399 website subscribers, up from 1290 a year ago.

There have been some important improvements.

• This year we revamped the webpage to make it more contemporary and also more useable when accessed from mobile devices.

• We also made it possible to access membership forms in an easier way.

Just a few facts and figures:

• We published more than 400 articles.

• We sent 52 weekly e-newsletters listing every new article with a link since the previous e-newsletter plus a few special newsletters. A little more than 40% of newsletters are opened. This is a very high percentage. WordPress rates it as “excellent”.

• We published 31 ANI original book reviews during the past year, organised by ANI book review editor Dr Gregory Gilbert, who also contributed a significant number of the reviews.

• We published a mix of ANI original contributions and republication of material from a variety of sources that would be of interest to our subscribers, so that they can follow all significant naval and maritime issues in one place.

• Our “unsubscribe” rate is almost non-existent.

There is still more work to be done. They include:

• Proving more original content.

• To both improve the ability for members to update membership details and renew membership.

• Provide a more seamless way members can engage in discussion.


Last year I mentioned the partnering work we have in place with kindred organizations in regard to events, the Australian Naval History video and podcast series. There is scope to do a lot more and we plan to have a Councillor dedicated to this engagement.


On 2 February we had a general Meeting to update the ANI Constitution and to allow for an expanded Council size. At this AGM we should reach the full strength of four officer holders and 15 Councillors. This will important as the Council is the engine room is the ANI.

We will need their commitment to develop and execute the new ANI Strategy.

I would like to acknowledge the work of the outgoing Council in realizing these achievements.

As you will see from the Treasurers Report, our industry support is crucial to us. I would like to thank our industry partners, some of whom are here today and also acknowledge the tremendous work of Brian Mansell in engaging with industry.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the work of Sue Hart and her small team at Commerce Management Services in ensuring the crucial administration and organisation is undertaken in a most professional way.

Thank you.