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Australia’s ASIO security chief, Mike Burgess presented the Director-General’s Annual Threat Assessment on Monday. The assessment laid out ASIO’s ‘principle concerns’ about national security, and the issues it views as threats to Australians both internally and externally.

Burgess didn’t mess around, stating from the start that he wanted ‘to move beyond the bureaucratic language of annual reports and help everyone understand the significant threats we see directed at Australia and Australians.’

The director spoke pointedly about the increasing challenges technology posed to the organizations ability to do what it does successfully. Adding that ASIO seeks to find a balance between the ‘need for new powers and privacy’, and how new laws have allowed ASIO to effectively keep up with these challenges, giving ASIO a sharper edge and ability to respond to these challenges with ‘energy and purpose.’

Burgess reminded Australians that ASIO’s ‘number one mission is to protect Australians from threats to their lives’, saying that the ‘terrorist threat remains PROBABLE [sic.]; and that it will remain unacceptably high for the foreseeable future.’ The ASIO Director made it clear terrorist elements are still ‘plotting to harm Australians; some occurring in small cells.’

Burgess noted that equally concerning is ‘the ease with which terrorists continue to use the internet to spread hateful messages, radicalize people to their cause and provide how-to-advice on committing atrocities against Australians.’ He followed this up by stating that he finds the ‘streams of hate spread across the internet by extremists of every ideology’ particularly troubling, where ‘extremists are trying to recruit children as young as 13 or 14.’ He then added that ‘violent Islamic extremism, e.g.: the type embodied by Islamic State and al’Qaida’  et.al. ‘remain ASIOs principle concern.’

Burgess’ assessment wasn’t sugar-coated, he pointed out that ‘there are now more Islamic extremists from more countries active in more places than ever before.’ He then spoke on what he called ‘other operators entering the ‘terrorism arena’, stating that the Christchurch shooting ‘had brought right-wing extremism into sharp focus.’ He labeled this ‘extreme right-wing threat real’, saying that it was on the rise in suburbs where small cells meet to salute Nazi flags inspect weapons, train in combat and share hateful ideology.’

While acknowledging the ‘low capability’ of any extreme right-wing terrorist attack, Burgess didn’t rule out the possibility of more ‘sophisticated attacks.’ Building on this he discussed the issue of ‘state-sponsored terrorism’, espionage, foreign interference, and the threat posed by extremists who are being released from prison. According to Burgess, ‘foreign espionage and interference activities are higher now, than it was at the height of the cold war.’

In his address, the ASIO director mentioned that the organization has ‘uncovered cases where foreign spies have travelled to Australia with the intention of setting up sophisticated hacking infrastructure targeting computers containing sensitive and classified information.’ Burgess also stated that ‘we’ve seen visiting scientists and academics ingratiating themselves into university life with the aim of conducting clandestine intelligence collection’ – adding that ‘this strikes at the very heart of our notions of free and fair academic exchange.’

Media responses to the threat assessment have been varied.

The Australian highlighted chief points made by the ASIO security director. Its headline read: ‘Spy Boss Comes out of the Shadows.’ The article summed up ‘Mr. Burgess’ threat stock-take, and acknowledged how the ASIO director didn’t flinch in calling out Islamic extremism, as being the No.1 concern; that the threat of espionage was far and away the most serious issue going forward.’ The article drew from The Australian’s Greg Sheridan who ‘argued on Tuesday that ASIO’s assessment showed “those folks who say that Chinese government is being demonized in Australian security discussions are simply refusing to face reality.’

The ABC went an entirely different route. Taking the opportunity to deflect the heat away from Muslims and the Chinese, The ABC  appeared to launch an opportunistic and subtle attack on anything and everything right-wing, the 1 billion dollar tax-payer funded organization choosing to run with the headline: ‘Neo-Nazis among Australia’s most challenging security threats, ASIO Boss Mike Burgess warns.

While The ABC was generous enough to note Burgess’ comments about ASIO’s ‘principle concerns’, adding a brief mention of Islamic Terrorism, and tacking a note on at the end, acknowledging China as the ‘main culprit’, the tax-payer funded behemoth chose instead to focus its attention on the small fish. This is despite the ASIO Director having very clearly stated that ASIO’s ‘principle concerns’ are related to Islamic Terrorism, and foreign interference, not just externally, but within Australia, particularly Australian Universities.

Greens senator, Mehreen Faruqi appeared to do the same. Faruqi selectively responded on Twitter to comments from Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, who answered a reporter’s question about neo-Nazism, saying,

“If somebody is going to cause harm to Australians, I just don’t care whether they’re on the far right, far left, somewhere in between, they will be dealt with…and if the proliferation of information into the hands of rightwing lunatics or leftwing lunatics is leading to a threat in our country, then my responsibility is to make sure our agencies are dealing with it and they are.”

The Greens senator seemed to deliberately misconstrue Dutton’s comments, in what could rightly be viewed as an attempt to tar and feather the Minister as a right-wing extremist.

By 9:28 pm on the same day the Greens Senator had deleted her comments, and posted this apology:

Burgess’ delivery of the Director-General’s Annual Threat Assessment was straight to the point. The Home Affairs Ministers, and ASIO security chief didn’t play with semantics, seek to placate dishonest critics, or use the assessment as a political football. They called a spade a spade. It was impossible to misunderstand him, or Peter Dutton. In not passing on that information to the Australian public correctly, and in its proper context, The ABC and Greens Senator Faruqi have placed their own self-righteous, ideological, political posturing over against the safety of the Australian public they are funded by tax-payers to serve.


References:

FULL transcript of Mike Burgess’ Annual National Security Assessment.

First published on Caldron Pool, 27th February, 2020.

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash  cropped and edited by me.

© Rod Lampard, 2020.

This week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that well known, and trusted, Australian media royalty, Ita Buttrose, would be taking on the chair of the Australian Broadcasting Company (The ABC).

Her appointment to the chair provides hope for many of Australia’s tax payers who want to see a return to a fairer, more representative ABC; one that represents Australia, Australian culture, and Australians.

In other words, having a National broadcaster, that upholds a healthy Australian nationalism. Buttrose’s statements during the press conference point in this direction.

“[The ABC] is a voice of the Australian people. I think it reflects our identity, it tells our stories not just here in Australia but to the rest of the world, and I have grown up with the ABC.”

Adding weight to this, Scott Morrison reminded people that the ABC, needs to do what Ita has always done, put the viewers, the listeners, and their readers first.

“..It’s about the viewers, it’s about the listeners, it’s about the readers, and the services the ABC provides to Australians”[1] […] “Australians trust Ita. I trust Ita and that’s why I have asked her to take on this role and I’m absolutely thrilled that she has accepted”[2]

For the growing majority of Australians who consider the ABC to be an echo chamber for urban Leftist elites; or a propaganda machine for the radical Left, Ita might well be a false dawn, but given her professionalism, service to the community, real change is not just possible, but likely.

Buttrose is a hard worker and comes from the private sector. Having been in the media industry since the early 1970s, her long management experience puts her in a position to not only be blunt in pointing out the bad, it also means that Buttrose isn’t afraid to ask questions that might lead to necessary reforms which will correct imbalances, cherish and preserve the good.

For all those concerned with the ideological, and cultural, direction of the ABC in the past two decades, Ita Buttrose’s appointment might just be the rekindling of a light long extinguished by a collective, who are hell bent on sentencing Australians to the shackles of globalist imperialism, and the leftist cult of modern liberalism.

In the past two decades the ABC has undergone a gradual takeover of its mandate, through its soft treatment of, and pandering to the ideas, and apologetic preaching platforms of Leftist ideologues.

Nowhere is this witnessed better, than the weekly Q & A program, and the unforgettable, infuriating, Howard-hating, Kevin07 fanaticism that made an over-excited, Kerry O’Brien, of the ABC’s 7:30 Report, jump with joy, on live television stating, “We’ve got him! We’ve got Him!” the night John Howard lost the 2007 election.

The looming question is can Ita Buttrose reform the $1 billion dollar tax payer behemoth that is the state owned ABC? And can she do this without making the ABC more of a financial burden on Australians? I think she can. Her first order of business should be a cost-benefit review of staffing and infrastructure. Then start in on a review of how well the service promised in the ABC charter is being delivered to the Australian public.

With Ita Buttrose in the chair, we might see, not just the return of the ABC to its mandate, or its roots, but a return of the ABC to the Australian people.


References:

[1] Laura Tingle, Ita’s Message for Scott Morrison, 3rd March 2018

[2] The ABC, Ita’s Vision for the ABC, Sourced 28th February 2019

©Rod Lampard, 2019

(Published on The Caldron Pool 4th March 2019)