About Us

The Council for the National Interest (CNI) was formed by a number of quite eminent Australians in the mid 1980s with an initial focus on defense and foreign policy issues. In the early 1990s, CNI broadened its focus to encompass the whole range of economic, social and political issues vital to the national interest.

The CNI was originally established in all mainland Capital Cities. However by the late 1990's the perception for such an organisation in the eastern states was not considered necessary and slowly each state committee closed down.

In Western Australia the Committee determined that policy issues from a Western Australian perspective was a neglected area and is now the only operating branch of what was a national structure.

The CNI in WA has a structure of an executive committee and members and has been very active with seminars, policy paper development and lobbying. A number of members meet in regular discussion groups formulating policy discussion papers and developing lobbying campaigns for consideration by the executive committee.

CNI also conducts Public Forums on matters of national interest.

It is important to note that CNI is non-party political and has no affiliation with any political party. CNI is equally comfortable lobbying the Government of the day (both State and Federal), the Opposition, Minor Parties and Independents.

The Objective is pursued through public education and political and media lobbying. In recent times in Western Australia, CNI has mounted major public meetings on Who Governs Australia, Australia 2000 and Beyond and seminar/workshops on GST, Law and Order, Defence, Indonesia, Coastwatch, Immigration etc.

Major submissions to Government and or the Parliament have included "Re-building Australia - a Start", "Towards Full Employment", "Whither Australia? or Wither Australia", "The Treaty Making Process", "National Competition Policy", "Law and Order", "Drug Policy", "The International Criminal Court", "The Family Does Matter" and "The Crisis Facing Australia". 


CNI was established around 1985 and being a voluntary organization can only make a difference with the help of members and supporters and their subscriptions and donations. We are looking forward to the future with renewed vigour and will make every effort to keep members and supporters informed.

Click here to download membership form


The principal architect of the Council for the National Interest was Mr Bob Santamaria, who had been the driving force in "The Movement" now the National Civic Council.

Initially, the Movement was largely focused on reversing the influence of the Australian Communist Party on Australia's unions and on the Australian Labor Party (ALP).

His work led to the ALP split in the fifties and the formation of the "break-away" Democratic Labor Party (DLP).

In the 1980's Bob Santamaria was concerned about the Hawke Labor Government's defence and foreign policies, or rather, the lack of such policies.

He gathered together a number of prominent Australians, who shared his view and they formed the Council for the National Interest.

Initial Councillors included:

Sir John Anderson C.M.G    Major General David Butler A.O., D.S.O    Sir Bernard Callinan A.C., C.B.E., D.S.O., M.C

Sir Charles Court A.K., K.C.M.G., O.B.E    Peter Henderson A.C    Professor Dame Leonie Kramer D.B.E    Sir Arvi Parbo    B.A. Santamaria

Laurie Short A.O., O.B.E    Dr Ian Spry Q.C    John Stone (Later Senator).

Committees were formed in each Australian state. In Western Australia, besides the WA Committee, there is the Central Branch Policy Discussion Group (CBPDG).

The CBPDG meets regularly and over the years has been  primarily responsible for developing the policy discussion papers appearing on the CNI website and for initiating and progressing lobbying campaigns addressed to Federal and State politicians of all political

persuasions including submissions to Parliamentary Committees.

19 July 2015

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