Natalie O'Brien and Patrick Walters
September 26, 2006
AUSTRALIA'S defence industry could be seen as a soft espionage target
for foreign governments trying to steal national secrets, the nation's
top spy has warned.
Australian Security Intelligence Organisation director-general Paul
O'Sullivan said defence industry businesses that were developing or had
access to sensitive technology and information could be earmarked by
"There is little doubt that, given the opportunity, some governments
would seek to obtain this information or technology for their own
benefit," Mr O'Sullivan said.
"In fact, some governments may view Australia's defence industry as a
potential soft target to obtain such material."
Defence experts say the industry is a target of high interest to foreign
intelligence services because of the cutting-edge technologies that are
being developed in Australia, including highly sophisticated electronic
warfare systems, undersea warfare technologies and military radar and
The Australian reported last year that federal government sources
believed that China, despite its denials, had more spies in this country
than any other country, including Russia.
Mr O'Sullivan also spoke about traditional security threats during a
speech to a business lunch in Sydney last Friday.
The espionage chief said counter-terrorism had been ASIO's main focus of
operations since the September 11 attacks on the US, but it should be
remembered that Australia's security environment "consists of other
elements that pose a threat to our interests ... such as the protection
of Australians from espionage, sabotage, the promotion of communal
violence, attacks on Australia's defence system and acts of foreign
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