ASIO’s international cooperation over the decades
International cooperation, and Australia’s relationship with Great Britain in particular, has been a guiding force in the history of ASIO. The British Security Service, or MI5, provided the blueprint for how a security service should work in Australia, and their security liaison officer posted in Canberra played a significant part in the Organisation’s formation and early investigations into the revelations of Venona.
In the early 1950s, ASIO began deploying officers to conduct security checking (vetting and background checking) of prospective migrants from a base within the Department of Immigration offices in major cities, and this function was supported by ASIO’s close relationship with British services and the security services of other countries.
ASIO first established its own liaison office within the Australian High Commission in London in 1956, appointing an experienced intelligence officer to the post of Senior Security Officer. As a result of the role’s close liaison, engagement with the United Kingdom services deepened to include training, short-term attachments and reciprocal visits.
Since its establishment, ASIO has developed and maintains similar close liaison with its other traditional partners in New Zealand, Canada, and the United States who, along with the United Kingdom, partner with Australia in the Five-Eyes intelligence-sharing arrangement.
Today ASIO maintains an extensive network of overseas liaison offices which supports relationships with more than 350 partner agencies in 130 countries. Through this network, ASIO is able to share and gain access to valuable intelligence and develop shared capabilities.