President’s report 2019

Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you for coming to the 2019 Annual General Meeting. 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 we have made a modest operating surplus.

Over the last year the ANI has tried to consolidate its activities and where possible look for opportunities to further encourage discussion on maritime issues. Next month the new Council will review the draft new ANI Strategy for the next three years.

Our membership has hovered between 250-300. We are 287 members a pleasing increase of 26 over the year. Notably we continue to get new members with every event we hold.

I would now briefly like to outline what we have achieved in 2019.

Events

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, particularly after its refurbishment.

This year’s Orator, Sir Angus Houston gave an excellent Oration which will be published in December in the next edition of the Australian Naval Review (ANR). We are hoping to finalize the 2020 Vernon Parker Orator soon and a date soon.

The 2019 McNeil Prize, won by Mr Peter Jenkins has grown from strength to strength. I would like to acknowledge the work of Andrew Collingwood and his team and also the distinguished judging panel in identifying the winner.

Turning to the Goldrick Seminar, once again the ANI partnered with the UNSW Canberra, the Navy and the Submarine Institute of Australia. For the second time we had the Navy, in this case the Chief of Navy himself, select the topic for the Goldrick Seminar. It was on the Australian Maritime Trade. This was a product of the Strategic Partnership we have with Navy. You will have also noted we have posted some of the papers on-line and I note some have been picked up by other institutions and reposted.

Most of the presentations have been placed on the UNSW You Tube Channel. A link will be in this week’s ANI newsletter.

Importantly, we are finalizing the report on Australian Maritime Trade for CN. A version of this report will be posted on-line idc.

Chief of Navy’s Essay Competition

As part of the Strategic Partnering Agreement, the ANI managed CN’s new essay competition. Over 70 entries were received in the three categories. The winner of the junior category has been announced and the other two will be announced shortly. The ANI received a fee to administer the competition which will be held to coincide with the Seapower Conference. The winning essays will be published in the next edition of the ANR.

Australian Naval Review

Speaking of the ANR, this year we will produce two editions. Having gained more experience with the ANR we will focus ensuring it is of interest to our members. Some articles will be released over time more broadly.

Website

The ANI website is 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.” 

The ANI website and the associated email Newsletter are our main means to fulfill our mission of advancing knowledge related to, and providing a forum for the exchange of ideas concerning, the Navy and the maritime profession.

In the past year we have published more than 400 articles, many of them in-depth analyses. Others include book reviews, articles about naval history and developments with weapons and platforms. The website is also the main communication point with members informing them about ANI events.

Through the website and the weekly newsletter summarising (with links) all the items that were posted in the previous week, ANI has had a significant contribution to debates about ship-building; new technology; the South China Sea and the Belt and Road project; defending Australia; the Quad and the Indian Ocean; soft power in the Pacific; Australia’s alliances and relations with other nations and so on.

Each week a number of comments are submitted and published, especially on contentious subjects, contributing to the debate.

During the year, new software was installed which culled bounced emails (caused by people changing email addresses) from the subscriber list. The process ensured integrity of the site and reduced the chances of SPAM and other attacks. There has only been one minor cyber security issue in the past year. It was very quickly spotted and fixed.

We now have a tad more than 700 subscribers. The culling of the bouncing emails has had a beneficial effect: a higher click rate on the newsletter, which is now just below 60%. For an internet newsletter that is considered exceptionally high.

Next month we will meet with a webpage designer to set out the statement of work for the new website. The key improvements we will make are:

  • Allow content to be easier to find.
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  • Create a ‘bookshop’ page where our book reviews are associated to a hyperlink to a third party book store. The ANI should obtain a modest commission. We would see how this develops.
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  • Provide a more seamless way members can engage in discussion.
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Partnering

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. As I said last year there is scope to do a lot more. To that end we had a meeting with the Seapower Centre and UNSW Canberra about a possible Seapower podcast series to commence in 2020. I will keep you posted on this intiative.

We have also been approached to support Corbett 100 Project and Conference series to be conducted in 2022. Corbett 100 is a joint project between the US Naval War College Hattendorf Historical Centre and King’s College London Laughton Unit. Once again I will keep you posted on this project

Council

Each AGM is an opportunity to renew the Council. I would like to thank the outgoing members for their support to me and the ANI. It has been a pleasure working with you.

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 the recently retired Councillor 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 organization is undertaken in a most professional way.

Thank you.

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