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Former secretary of defence to lead new security agency

former secretary of defence nick warner
Former Secretary of Defence Nick Warner (left). Image via Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence.

As Defence’s Australian Signals Directorate makes its transition to a statutory agency under Australias new Office of National Intelligence, the Prime Minister has named the offices Director-General and designate of national intelligence.

Former secretary of defence Nick Warner AO, PSM, has been appointed to the secretary-equivalent role, leaving behind his role of director-general of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, which he had served in since 2009.


Prior to this, Warner was the senior adviser (international) to the Prime Minister from 2005.

"I am confident that Mr Warner will ensure that Australia’s intelligence agencies remain the most capable, agile and effective in the world," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said of Warner's appointment.

Paul Symon AO has also been appointed as the new Director-General of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service. Symon has extensive experience in Australia’s national security and intelligence community and has served as Major General in the Australian Army, including as the deputy chief of Army and director of the Defence Intelligence Organisation.

"Both Mr Warner and Mr Symon will commence their new appointments on 18 December 2017," PM Turnbull said.

"On behalf of the government, I congratulate Mr Warner and Mr Symon and thank them for continuing to serve the Australian people in these important roles."

Under the new Home Affairs portfolio, to be established in 2018, the office will take in Defence's Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), immigration, ASIO, the Australian Federal Police, Austrac and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission. The new office subsumes the existing Office of National Assessments and will see ASD transformed into a statutory agency.

The changes come after a review was of Australia's intelligence community was conducted last year by Michael L'Estrange, Stephen Merchant and their adviser Sir Iain Lobban.

The review concluded that Australia’s intelligence agencies are highly capable and staffed by skilled officers. It also made many important recommendations to transform these agencies into a world-class intelligence community.

The review highlighted how changing security threats and technologies are driving the need for closer co-operation between Australia's domestic security and law enforcement agencies.

Under the changes, Mike Burgess has been appointed as the Director-General designate of the ASD. Burgess is a cyber security consultant who was previously the chief information security officer for Telstra, and prior to that, a deputy director of ASD.

"Burgess will bring to ASD significant experience in intelligence and information and cyber security from both the private and public sectors, particularly as it transitions to a statutory agency within the Defence portfolio," the Prime Minister said.

The current Director of ASD since 2013, Dr Paul Taloni PSM, will now transfer to a senior position within the Office of National Assessments.

Richard Maude, who served as Director-General of the Office of National Assessments, has been appointed to the position of Deputy Secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Bruce Miller, the acting ONA Director-General, previously advised the government of his intentions to retire in the near future.


Former secretary of defence to lead new security agency
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