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Report of the Inquiry into  Australian Intelligence Agencies  


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Annex A: Prime Minister's Letter of 4 March 2004


Prime Minister
4 March 2004

Mr Philip Flood AO

Dear Mr Flood

I am writing to request that you undertake an inquiry into matters relating to the Australian intelligence agencies, consistent with the approach recommended in the recently completed report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee into ASIO, ASIS and DSD (PJCAAD) inquiry into intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

The PJCAAD recommended that:

Recommendation 1

"The Committee recommends that, in the course of any post war review of the intelligence agencies, the Government assess the capacity of ONA in line with the changed security circumstances."

Recommendation 2

"The Committee recommends that, in any review, the AIC should examine their processes to ensure the maintenance of their independence and objectivity."

Recommendation 3

"The Committee recommends that there should be an independent assessment of the performance of the intelligence agencies, conducted by an experienced former intelligence expert with full access to all the material, which will report to the National Security Committee of Cabinet and which, in the light of the matters raised by the consideration of the pre-war intelligence on Iraq, will recommend any changes that need to take place for the better functioning of the agencies."

Without seeking to limit your examination, I ask that you provide advice on the following matters:

  • the effectiveness of the intelligence community's current oversight and accountability mechanisms as they relate to such matters as the setting of priorities, the assigning to the priorities of appropriate resources, and the delivery of high quality and independent intelligence advice to the government;

  • the suitability of the current division of labour among the intelligence agencies and communication between them;

  • the maintenance of contestability in the provision to government of intelligence assessments; and

  • the adequacy of current resourcing of intelligence agencies and in particular ONA.

Your inquiry is to focus primarily on the intelligence agencies in relation to foreign intelligence collection and assessment. As such, your deliberations should encompass the activities of ONA, DIO, ASIS, DSD and DIGO. Should you find it necessary, you should feel free also to include consideration of linkages to other agencies as appropriate, including ASIO. 

In preparing your report, you will have full access to all intelligence material that you require. You will also have access to any person you believe could usefully inform your views. You may wish to seek the views of other persons if you determine they can make a positive contribution to your inquiry. Ministers of course would be available to meet you with you if you wish.  

You should prepare an appropriately classified report and convey it directly to me by 30 June 2004. I will present your report to the National Security Committee of Cabinet as soon as practicable after that date. You should also prepare an unclassified version of your report. 

I have asked the Secretary of my department to liaise with you in identifying appropriate secretariat and logistics support for your inquiry. The heads of relevant departments and agencies will be directed to ensure they and their staff cooperate fully with the inquiry. 

A copy of this letter will be sent, for their information, to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister for Defence and the Attorney-General. 

I appreciate your willingness to undertake this important task.

Yours sincerely

(John Howard)

Click to view the original letter

Thumbnail of the Prime Minister's Letter of 4 March 2004




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