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National Security

A safe and secure Australia?

Australians may never have been more insecure By Chris Cubbage Executive Editor

There is a deep divide and disparity between the Australian political message of ‘we will protect you and will keep Australia safe’ and the operational message from police and emergency services of “don’t count on us being there in your greatest time of need – we may not be coming as quickly as you may think.”

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n July 18, Prime Minister Turnbull announced; “the Government will establish an Office of National Intelligence, headed by a Director-General, and transform the Australian Signals Directorate into a statutory agency within the Defence portfolio. The Government will also establish a Home Affairs portfolio of immigration, border protection and domestic security and law enforcement agencies. The new Home Affairs portfolio will be similar to the Home Office of the United Kingdom: a central department providing strategic planning, coordination and other support to a ‘federation’ of independent security and law enforcement agencies, including the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Border Force and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.” This is claimed as the most significant reform of Australia’s national intelligence and domestic security arrangements in more than 40 years. The Prime Minister said, “These reforms are driven by serious threats to Australia’s security and the Government’s determination to keep Australians safe and secure.” The basis and timing of the reform was the central theme of the Independent Intelligence Review Report 2017, which states, “to provide a pathway to take those areas of individual agency excellence to an even higher level of collective performance through strengthening integration across Australia’s national intelligence enterprise. The aim is to turn highly capable agencies into a world-class intelligence

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community. The theme of establishing strong, enterpriselevel management of the national intelligence community to complement the strengths of individual agencies runs through our recommendations.” The report continues, “Our national intelligence community is facing imposing challenges that, in our view, will intensify over the coming decade. Some of these challenges derive from new forms of rivalry and competition among states, the threat posed by extremism with global reach, particularly Islamist terrorism, and the implications of accelerating technological change for Australia’s national security outlook. Other challenges reflect the changing nature of twenty-first century intelligence, and especially the new frontiers of data-rich intelligence and the risks to comparative technical advantages.” “Australia’s future security environment will demand greater levels of collaboration across traditional dividing lines and more cross-over points….progress towards this objective will require changes to the co-ordinating structures of our intelligence community, new funding mechanisms to address capability gaps, the streamlining of some current legislative arrangements, and measures to further strengthen the state of trust between the intelligence agencies and the Australian community of which they are part.” The report also recommends Government transform the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) to become, “the credible and authoritative voice on cyber security in Australia. The ACSC should aim to pre-empt or respond at speed to

Australian Security Magazine, Aug/Sept 2017  

The Australian Security Magazine is the country’s leading government and corporate security magazine. It is published bi-monthly and is dist...