Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Additional Estimates

Mr Mike Burgess, Director-General

22 March 2021

Good afternoon. Thank you for the opportunity to offer some brief opening remarks.

ASIO’s role is to protect Australia and Australians from threats to their security. These threats include espionage, terrorism and foreign interference.

ASIO has been taking a forward-leaning, proactive approach, and just recently during my second annual threat assessment I outlined the threats we face.

The reason for this is simple: we believe that awareness is the first line of defence.

Australia’s security environment is complex, challenging and changing.

In terms of threat to life, the terrorism threat level remains at PROBABLE.

In terms of threats to our way of life, espionage and foreign interference are at an unacceptably high level.

Agility and ingenuity are at the core of ASIO’s operations.

We need to be able to out-imagine and out-manoeuvre sophisticated foreign adversaries that are effectively unconstrained by law, ethics and resources.

We need to be aware, and understand what security aware and tech-savvy extremists are plotting.

Given the evolving nature of the threats we face, ASIO continues to review our capabilities, powers and resources to ensure they are fit for purpose and proportionate to the challenges we face.

This is particularly important as we emerge from the COVID crisis. Hostile governments are seeking intelligence about our recovery. We have already seen key export, technology and research industries being targeted.

ASIO stands ready to detect and disrupt these threats. Security will underpin our recovery.

As I said last week in closing, spies and terrorists should know this: we are looking for you.

For the rest of the Australian community: we are looking out for you. ASIO is your security service.