National Security

Reveal the spy in our midst

March 2, 2024

Friday 01 March 2024
Ellen Ransley and Eleanor Campbell
The Chronicle

 The nation's top spy is being urged to reveal the identity of the former  politician he says sold Australia out to foreign spies.
 Australian Security Intelligence Organisation boss Mike Burgess used his  annual threat assessment address to reveal an ex-politician was recruited by  a foreign intelligence service "several years ago" but declined to  name the person.
 Former federal treasurer and ambassador to the US Joe Hockey said the claims  had implicated hundreds of officials.
 "Mr Burgess has to now name that politician, otherwise everyone who has  ever served in politics is imputed it's as simple as that," he told 2GB.
 "You can't make an allegation or a statement about someone being a  traitor and then expect that no one will ask questions." But the  government has backed Mr Burgess. Defence Minister Richard Marles said  revealing the name of the traitor would not be beneficial.
 "I am not aware of the specific facts which underpin the scenario that  Mike Burgess has outlined," he said on Thursday.
 "I respect the reasons why that is important to be kept confidential .  but I think it is also really important that this story be put out in the  public domain, which is what Mike Burgess has done, because, you know, those  of us engaged in public life, we need to be really vigilant." Opposition  foreign affairs spokesman James Paterson said he had a "fair idea"  of who the spy was but refused to speculate publicly.
 He agreed with Mr Marles that the accused politician shouldn't be outed but  said the person should face serious legal consequences.
 "I think it would be unfair to name someone publicly and you would  obviously be running a very serious defamation risk if you do so," he  said on Thursday.
 "I think it would be very powerful and important if someone has betrayed  their country, particularly someone who has the honour of representing their  country in the parliament, that they face legal consequences and very serious  ones for that.
 "But the reality is the laws weren't there when this conduct occurred.  That makes it very difficult." Mr Burgess used his address on Wednesday  evening to reveal a dedicated unit within a foreign spy service is targeting  Australia.
 He said the "A-team" a spy network operating within a  "particular foreign intelligence service" had come to be one of the  most significant threats the agency was fighting, speaking about them  publicly because "we want the A-team to know its cover is blown".
 Mr Burgess said the A-team trawled professional networking sites looking for  Australians with access to high-level security, defence and risk information.  Mr Burgess said the team used "false, anglicised personas", posing  as consultants, headhunters, officials, academics and researchers from  fictional companies to approach the targets.

Recent News

All Posts