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Why the Australian Secret Intelligence Service should be Abolished. Holiday Reading.

By Brian Toohey: Pearls and Irritations The Australian Secret Intelligence Service was established in 1950 to conduct spying overseas and morally repulsive covert operations. It had a slow start, but in the 1970s it sent three staff to Chile to… Continue Reading →

Australian Secret Intelligence Service: The Interviews

By Graeme Dobell with the Australian Strategic Policy For the first time in the 68 year history of Australia’s overseas spy service, the top spy Paul Symon has gone before the camera for a four-part series of video interviews, conducted… Continue Reading →

Secrecy Covers Up Abuse of Power and Poor Performance by Australia’s Security Services

By Jack Waterford with Pearls and Irritations One would have to go back to the 1970s to find the nation so ill-served. All the more so as politicians have politicised national security, and reverted to 1960s games of gathering and… Continue Reading →


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Despite the billions of dollars funnelled to them, and their thousands of personnel, Australians know almost nothing about the well-resourced, ultra-secretive intelligence agencies their dollars support. This is against a backdrop where the government has greatly expanded the powers of the agencies, but the citizens themselves have few legal rights when it comes to those who spy so avidly upon them.

There is no legal right to privacy or freedom of expression written into the Australian constitution, and the government has a reputation for spying on its own citizens to a far greater degree than any other Western democracy.

With the multiple incompetencies of Australian governance now a byword across the nation, transparency at zero and oversight chaotic at best, Australians can only take the word of their politicians on the value of these agencies, routinely described by the Prime Minister of the day as “the best in the world”.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull flew in the face of opposition from the agencies themselves and many of his most senior ministers, when he announced the formation of a new Homeland Security style mega-agency.

Reviews of the nation’s security agencies are extremely rare. While a determinedly “inside the beltway” view, with almost no public input, the new Independent Intelligence Review, when read with a certain between-the-lines scepticism, is a valuable insight at a time when the entire future of intelligence in Australia is in play.

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