THE federal government is adamant the new headquarters of Australia’s spy agency ASIO are secure and rejects claims they have been compromised by Chinese hackers.
Federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus on Tuesday dismissed suggestions the multi-million dollar building in Canberra might have to be gutted and reconfigured following the allegations raised by the ABC Four Corners program.
This week’s program examined Chinese cyber attacks, claiming one such attack netted the hackers top-secret and detailed blueprints of spy agency ASIO’s new headquarters in Canberra.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard told parliament the report was inaccurate, although she did not elaborate on what elements were wrong.
But a senior government source told AAP “any assertion that plans for the new ASIO building have been compromised is incorrect”.
Mr Dreyfus also said claims the building was compromised were untrue.
“The ASIO building is going to be open and occupied in the second half of this year,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“I can assure absolutely everybody that this building is a very secure state of the art facility.”
There is deepening concern about widespread and aggressive state-sponsored hacking by China, amid further allegations its cyber spies recently obtained sensitive Australian military secrets and foreign affairs documents.
Foreign Minister Bob Carr said the government was “very alive” to emerging cyber-security threats but declined to comment further.
“We don’t want to share with the world and potential aggressors what we know about what they might be doing and how they might be doing it,” Senator Carr said.
But the claims did not jeopardise Australia’s new so-called strategic partnership with China.
“It’s got absolutely no implications for a strategic partnership. We have enormous areas of cooperation with China,” Senator Carr said.
The ASIO hacking claims have also coincided with a fresh political fight over Labor’s funding of intelligence and national security agencies.
Ms Gillard says all Australia’s intelligence agencies are in a position to keep the country safe with the resources they currently have.
“I reject any suggestion that funding to Australia’s intelligence agencies has been cut,” she said.
A critical parliamentary committee review tabled in parliament on Monday related to the 2010/11 budgets, she said, and the more recent 2013/14 budget had increased ASIO’s funding by around $32 million.
Ms Gillard also spoke about the arrest of an alleged jihadist charged with using a carriage service to make a threat and threatening to cause harm to a Commonwealth public official.
Counter terrorism officers arrested a 23-year-old man on Monday.
The arrest follows the gruesome murder of a British soldier in the streets of London last week, footage of which was shown around the world.
“The implications of this incident for Australia have been considered by our national security committee,” Ms Gillard said. – AAP