Review of Australian intelligence agencies announced – November 2016

Filed under: Politics, Foreign Affairs, Public Sector, Defence,

The federal Government has commissioned an independent review into Australia’s intelligence agencies.

“This is an opportunity to assess whether our current intelligence arrangements, structures and mechanisms are best placed to meet the security challenges we are likely to face in the years ahead,” said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

“Consistent with previous reviews conducted in 2004 and 2011, this process will examine how our intelligence community serves Australia’s national interest. The review will consider the ongoing suitability of legislative and oversight provisions.

“I have asked Professor Michael L’Estrange and Mr Stephen Merchant to conduct the review and report to the Government in the first half of 2017. The reviewers will also provide a public version of their report.”

Professor L’Estrange has held several senior public service appointments, including secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.

He was the inaugural head of the National Security College at the Australian National University and the inaugural executive director of the Menzies Research Centre in Canberra.

He also served on the staff of Mr Justice Hope's second Royal Commission into Australia's security and intelligence agencies.

Mr Merchant has held senior positions in Defence and Australia’s intelligence community, including Director of the Defence Signals Directorate and the Deputy Secretary responsible for the three Defence intelligence agencies.

He also has extensive experience in defence strategy, international policy, defence capability development and working with the intelligence communities of our major allies.

Mr Turnbull said: “I have also asked Sir Iain Lobban to assist the reviewers. Sir Iain will bring valuable overseas intelligence experience and insights to review deliberations, having been the Director of the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters, which is the UK counterpart of our Australian Signals Directorate.

“He was also a member of the expert panel for Australia’s 2016 Cyber Security Strategy, which was released in April.”

Public submissions can be made to the review, closing 4 January 2017.

Further Reading