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ASIO boss claims former politician ‘sold out Australia’ and warns of ‘race war’ threat

Mike Burgess ASIO

Australia’s top spy has released his Annual Threat Assessment for 2024, where he claimed an unnamed former Australian politician was allegedly recruited by a foreign regime for the purpose of obtaining sensitive information.

The report released on Wednesday by Mike Burgess, Director-General of Security at the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), revealed that the type of people generally targeted are “students, academics, politicians, businesspeople, researchers, law enforcement officials and public servants at all levels of government”.

Mr Burgess did not name specific politicians or nations involved, but it does give us an example of how the methods commonly work.

“Most commonly, they offer their targets consulting opportunities, promising to pay thousands of dollars for reports on Australian trade, politics, economics, foreign policy, defence and security. Additional payments can be offered for ‘inside’ or ‘exclusive’ information,” Mr Burgess said in his assessment.

“This politician sold out their country, party and former colleagues to advance the interests of the foreign regime. At one point, the former politician even proposed bringing a Prime Minister’s family member into the spies’ orbit. Fortunately that plot did not go ahead but other schemes did.”

Espionage, spying and threats to our national security at the hands of foreign regimes is nothing new, but in this age of technology, the way we defend against these attacks has varied, as have the methods used by these foreign regimes, according to the same report.

“Over the 75 years, two things stand out to me. One is the amount of change in the security environment. Terrorists and spies don’t do business as usual; there are constant shifts in threat, intent, tactics, capabilities and technologies,” Mr Burgess said.

Joe Hockey, ex-Treasurer and US ambassador, expressed to 2GB’s Ben Fordham in a heated interview that it is imperative for Mr. Burgess to disclose the identity of the “traitor” politician mentioned in his annual threat assessment speech on Wednesday night.

Mr Hockey said: “And it’s not an allegation, it’s a statement of fact that a politician served the interests of a foreign nation against the interest of Australia, and Mr Burgess has to now name that politician, otherwise everyone who has ever served in politics is impugned.

“It’s as simple as that. You can’t make an allegation or a statement about someone being a traitor and then expect that no one will ask questions.

“I served nearly 20 years in parliament, I want to know who that person is, because I will reflect on what I said to them, what I gave to them, how I dealt with them, and potentially what they did with that information.”

Australia’s intelligence agencies maintain their vigilance against the persistent threat of terrorism, coupled with a rising number of so called “violent extremists with nationalist and racist ideologies”, according to the report, where no specific example was given.

Mr Burgess said “Sunni violent extremism poses the greatest religiously motivated violent extremist threat in Australia”, and also highlighted an ongoing concern regarding private discussions among “extremists” regarding sabotage.

“Over the last 18 months, we’ve also seen an uptick in the number of nationalist and racist violent extremists advocating sabotage in private conversations, both here and overseas,” he said.

“It’s particularly pronounced among ‘accelerationists’ – extremists who want to trigger a so-called ‘race war’.

“We have seen them endorsing attacks on power networks, electrical substations and railway networks.”

While Burgess acknowledged that such discussions were “largely big talk”, he said authorities remain apprehensive about the potential actions of a “lone actor” who might act without warning.

“The threat from nationalist and racist violent extremism persists. We assess white nationalist groups are primarily focussed on recruitment and radicalisation — their recent attempts to gain public attention are a good example,” he said.

There have been no “racist nationalist” terror attacks in recent history.

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