ASIO has too many people…and its getting 500 more; ASIO has too much money…and it’s getting 80% more; ASIO has too little meaningful work to do…so it will have to find new ways of spying on you and me. The Federal Government must rein in ASIO now, says CLA’s CEO Bill Rowlings, in this article analysing the spy organisation’s own ‘Year in Review’ claims.
ASIO recruited 349 people – almost one a day – in 2006-7 and experienced a net growth of 246 for the year, a staffing increase of 22 per cent.
Numbers grew from 1110 to 1356, a staging post on the way to 1860 staff just over two years from now, which will be a further 37 per cent increase on the 30 June 2007 staff numbers.
This is a spy service which will almost certainly be out of control well before it reaches peak numbers in 2010. It will have trebled in size in about seven years, from about 600 to more than 1800.
How important is it for Australia to have such a huge secret service? You be the judge: here is what ASIO’s own summary of the ‘Year in Review’ says:
“The national counter-terrorism alert level remained unchanged at medium, which means that a terrorist attack could occur (!!!! exclamations/underlining added – this incisive assessment required 1356 staff to produce). The alert level was raised to medium following the terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001, and is likely to be at least medium for some time.”
What important work did ASIO do in 2006-7. Here’s some examples:
- Counter-terrorism checks – 134,981 checks: zero (0) resulted in denial of access;
- Checks on access to national security – 20,856 checks: zero (0) denial of access.
Perhaps there’s a lesson in these statistics that the checking processes need reviewing – there’s no mention of a review in ASIO’s gilded summary, which you can find on its website: ASIO have changed the location try this pdf link
ASIO’s budget went from $181.1m in 2005-6 to $234.8m in 2006-7. It is expected to be $423.9m by the 2010 financial year.
That’s a budget growth over the past 12 months of 30%, and a further growth over the next three years of 80%. ASIO’s budget is even more out of control than its staffing numbers.
CLA believes there is an urgent need for the Federal Government to review ASIO’s shooting star trajectory towards being an evil force in Australian society. It already has too many people engaged on largely useless work, according to some of its own statistics.
With many more people, too much time, and much more money, it will end up prying into areas where it has no place going. Edgar Hoover’s FBI in America is the model for how ASIO will go wrong.
Cartoonist Andrew Dyson’s ‘ASIO at the Beach’ is part of the CLA cartoon exhibition.