Australia pledges more cash for spies | News | DW | 17.10.2019
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Australia pledges more cash for spies

Australia's main spy agency will receive more funding following an annual report that said it wasn't coping with demand. In 2018, ASIO had an annual budget of $361.9 million and employed more than 1,900 people.

Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton on Thursday promised a funding increase for Australia's main spy agency after it released a report that said it is struggling to meet demands posed by the nation's new foreign interference laws, espionage and terrorism.

"It's getting unprecedented funding and we'll continue to support," Dutton told reporters.

"We have more demands on our intelligence services and law enforcement agencies than ever before," he added.

Dutton's promise of funding came one day after the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, better known as ASIO, revealed in an annual report an "increasing gap between demand for our counter-espionage and foreign interference advice and our ability to furnish this assistance."

Staff and budget increases

ASIO last year had an annual budget of AUD$533.4 million ($361.9 million; €327.2 million) and employed more than 1,900 people.

Dutton, said that ASIO would receive more money and that staffing would rise to more than 2,000 employees.

Australia last year outlawed covert foreign interference in world-first legislation that has angered China, its biggest export market.

Since December, individuals and businesses attempting to influence the government and Australian politics on behalf of a foreign government have had to register. The requirement is meant to create transparency for the public and government decision-makers.

The public register is a response to a government-commissioned classified report that found that for a decade, the Chinese Communist Party had tried to influence Australian policy, compromise political parties and gain access to all levels of government.

law/rt (AP, Reuters)

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