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Independent Review of the Intelligence Community Report


Cornall, R and Black, R, Independent Review of the Intelligence Community Report, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, Australia, pp. 1-48. (2011) [Government or Industry Research]

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Terms of Reference

The Independent Review of the Intelligence Community (IRIC) in 2011 will review the Australian Intelligence Community (AIC) in accordance with a recommendation of the Inquiry into Australian Intelligence Agencies (the Flood Inquiry) in 2004. The primary focus of this review will be the work of the six AIC agencies – Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), the Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation (DIGO), the Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO), the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) and the Office of National Assessments (ONA).

The aim of the review is to address six key issues:

  1. How well the intelligence community is positioned to support Australia’s national interests, now and into the future;
  2. Development of the intelligence community over the last decade, including implementation of intelligencerelated reforms;
  3. Working arrangements and relationships between the intelligence agencies and policy and operational areas of government;
  4. Working arrangements and relationships between the intelligence agencies and their international partners;
  5. Arrangements and practices within the intelligence community for collaborative work, including legislative arrangements; and
  6. Level of resourcing dedicated to the intelligence community and apportionment of resources across the community, noting that any future proposals would need to be offset consistent with the Government’s overall fiscal strategy.

The review will prepare findings and recommendations on the above issues and seek to provide a classified report to the Government around mid-year for its consideration in due course, as well as an accompanying unclassified version of that report.

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet will establish a secretariat drawn from across the intelligence community and related agencies, as well as provide all other administrative support required. The review team will have full access to all material, including intelligence information and Cabinet documents, relevant to its examination. The heads of all relevant departments and agencies will ensure they and their staff co-operate fully with the review, and provide any requested assistance. Ministers will also be asked to meet with and assist the review team.

The Nature of the Review

It is worth making six introductory points about the nature of this Review. It is the first comprehensive review of the Australian Intelligence Community since the 2004 Inquiry conducted by Mr Philip Flood AO1. There have of course been various reviews of individual agencies or aspects of their operation over the last seven years but no detailed consideration of the AIC as a whole.

Secondly, this Review is being conducted as a periodic review. It is not, as has usually been the case in the past, in response to a precipitating cause or event. As a result, the broad Terms of Reference require a general analysis and assessment of the intelligence community.

Thirdly, the primary focus of this Review is the work of the six agencies that have traditionally formed the Australian Intelligence Community – that is, the Office of National Assessments, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, the Defence Signals Directorate, the Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation and the Defence Intelligence Organisation.

However, while they are not directly the subject of this Review, a number of other agencies make significant intelligence contributions in their own areas of operation. Those agencies include military intelligence, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Crime Commission, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. The operational relationship and cooperation between the six core agencies and this wider group is important now and will become more important over time.

Fourthly, some significant policy changes have affected the intelligence community since 2004. A number of these changes were outlined in the National Security Statement delivered in Parliament on 4 December 2008. The changes include:

  • The adoption of an all hazards approach to national security and the consequent increase in the number of agencies that comprise the national security community, and
  • The appointment of a National Security Adviser and an increasing role for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in intelligence and national security matters.

Fifthly, the intelligence agencies have evolved substantially in the period covered by the Review. From agencies whose outputs were primarily directed to the development of policy, they now have a substantial operational role as well. The intelligence agencies have been integrally involved in supporting military operations, protecting our maritime borders, stopping weapons proliferation and thwarting terrorist activities in Australia and our region.

Sixthly, the Flood Inquiry had its primary focus on issues concerning the intelligence that had been provided to government on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Those issues had already received a great deal of public attention and had been the subject of a parliamentary inquiry. As a consequence of this general awareness, Mr Flood was able to publish a comprehensive unclassified version of his report.

This Review is different. It is not directed to a particular and well-known area of concern. The Terms of Reference called for a broad investigation into many highly classified or sensitive areas of the agencies’ operations and resulted in detailed recommendations, which cannot be made public.

Accordingly, this unclassified version of our Report provides a brief introduction to:

  • The nature of intelligence
  • What the government can reasonably expect from intelligence, and
  • The Australian Intelligence Community.

Then we set out a general overview of the matters we considered and the conclusions we reached. However, in relation to topics where there has been public comment about broad policy questions – such as overall structure of the AIC or the balance between security and safeguards – we have set out our reasoning in more detail in appendices.

Item Details

Item Type:Government or Industry Research
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Political science
Research Field:Australian government and politics
Objective Division:Defence
Objective Group:Defence
Objective Field:National security
UTAS Author:Black, R (Professor Rufus Black)
ID Code:125943
Year Published:2011
Deposited By:Vice-Chancellors Office
Deposited On:2018-05-16
Last Modified:2018-05-16
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