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ALP Proposes Office Of National Security

The ALP has proposed an Office of National Security to identify threats to Australia and direct Australia’s national security and intelligance effort.

The Leader of the Opposition, Simon Crean, says the national security policy established during the Cold War “is no longer equipped to meet the threat now posed to Australia by global terrorism”.

Text of a statement released by Simon Crean, Leader of the Opposition.

A Federal Labor Government will establish an Office of National Security to identify threats to Australia and direct Australia’s national security and intelligence effort.

The Office will be headed by a National Security Adviser who will report directly to the Prime Minister, and take direct responsibility for the co-ordination of all national security and intelligence information.

The tragic events of September 11 in the USA, and the Bali bombings have starkly illustrated the security threat now facing Australia.

The current inter-agency system responsible for national security policy was established during the Cold War and is no longer equipped to meet the threat now posed to Australia by global terrorism.

At present, Australia’s national intelligence effort involves six different agencies:

  • The Office of National Assessments (ONA);
  • The Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS);
  • The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO);
  • The Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO);
  • The Defence Signals Directorate (DSD); and
  • The Defence Imagery and Geo-spatial Organisation.

In addition, agencies such as the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Customs Service, the Department of Immigration and the various State police services also provide intelligence information.

These agencies compete for time, money and attention. There is also too much duplication of assessment and reporting tasks. Only a comprehensive approach to intelligence gathering and analysis will address the flaws in the current system and provide Australia with its best defence against global terrorism.

A central task of the National Security Adviser will be to determine, on a continuing basis, a National Threat Assessment for Australia. This will be the central, authoritative discipline for determining not only the changing nature of our threat environment but also the basis on which resources are then allocated to meet those threats.

The National Security Adviser would be responsible to the Prime Minister and Cabinet for all security and intelligence policy matters, in the same way that the Chief of the Defence Force is responsible for all military affairs.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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