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ASIO swamped by espionage advice demands

ASIO is struggling to meet demand for advice on espionage and foreign interference, its former director-general has warned. Photo: Getty
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Australia’s domestic intelligence agency is struggling to meet demand for advice on spying and foreign interference.

Duncan Lewis says heightened levels of espionage and interference – combined with greater awareness of the twin threats – are stretching resources at the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation.

Mr Lewis, who authored the agency’s annual report but has since retired, expects demand to continue to grow.

“With the terrorist threat showing no signs of significantly decreasing, ASIO has limited scope to redirect internal resources to address the increasing gap between demand for our counter-espionage and foreign interference advice and our ability to furnish this assistance,” he said in the report released on Wednesday.

“ASIO will need to build new capability and capacity to meet current and future demand for our trusted advice and expertise.

“We will necessarily prioritise our finite resources – across our counter-terrorism, counter-espionage and foreign interference, border integrity and protective security advice programs – towards addressing activities of the greatest potential harm to Australians and Australian interests.”