Maintaining a Strong and Secure Australia

Media release
01 Dec 2017
Prime Minister
Defence and National Security

There is no greater responsibility for any government than to ensure the safety and security of its people.

Earlier this year, the Australian Government announced the most significant reform to Australia’s intelligence and security landscape in decades by establishing a new Home Affairs portfolio, creating an Office of National Intelligence (subsuming the existing Office of National Assessments), and transforming the Australian Signals Directorate into a statutory agency.

The new Office of National Intelligence, to be established in 2018, will play a key role in coordinating strategy and capability development across the national intelligence community.

Today the Australian Government is pleased to announce Mr Nick Warner AO PSM as the new Director-General of the Office of National Assessments and as the Director-General designate of National Intelligence. In this Secretary-equivalent role, Mr Warner will drive establishment of the Office of National Intelligence and lead Australia’s intelligence community.

Mr Warner has had a long and distinguished career in intelligence and security. Since 2009, Mr Warner has been the Director-General of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service and, before this, was the Secretary of Defence from December 2006 and 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.

The Government is also pleased to announce Mr Paul Symon AO as the new Director-General of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service. Mr 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.

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.

In further strengthening our intelligence community, I also wish to announce the appointment of Mr Mike Burgess as the Director-General designate of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD).

Mr 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. Mr 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 current Director of ASD since 2013, Dr Paul Taloni PSM, will transfer to a senior position within the Office of National Assessments. Dr Taloni has been outstanding throughout his public service career and over the last few years has been pivotal in enhancing the depth and breadth of ASD’s operations and its national security responses for the Government. It will ensure that the new ONI will begin its vital leading role with the former heads of both ASIS and ASD.

I congratulate both Mr Burgess and Dr Taloni on their forthcoming roles.

Finally, I wish to thank Mr Bruce Miller, one of Australia’s most senior diplomats and a former Ambassador to Japan, for leading the Office of National Assessments while Mr Richard Maude led the preparation of the Australian Government’s Foreign Policy White Paper. Mr Miller has previously advised that he was intending to retire in the near term and I wish him all the best.

Mr Maude has served with diligence and professionalism as Director-General of the Office of National Assessments and has played an outstanding role on the Foreign Policy White Paper.

He has been appointed to the position of Deputy Secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.