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The announcement of a super-ministry to be led by Peter Dutton has grabbed all the headlines, but it has overshadowed the biggest proposed shake-up of our intelligence operations in decades.

Key points:

  • New Office of National Intelligence will take more active role in driving intelligence policy
  • Australia's cyber security capabilities will be boosted with statutory body in Defence Department
  • Department of Foreign Affairs secretary says changes needed to ensure oversight of growing intelligence community

The changes would see the creation of a powerful new role, the Director of National Intelligence, overseeing a new agency, the Office of National Intelligence (ONI).

The ONI would replace the existing Office of National Assessments, which currently briefs the prime minister on the latest intelligence.

The new office would do that and much more, taking a more active role in driving intelligence policy across the Government, centralising communications with the 10 main intelligence agencies and the Government, and connecting with businesses and other outside players.

Australian Strategic Policy Institute executive director Peter Jennings said the changes could be seen as a bigger story than Mr Dutton's promotion.

"The creation of a director of national intelligence is probably something that is overdue in our system, and has the potential to change the shape and content of Australian intelligence agency work," he told the ABC.

The details on the super-ministry

The PM brings the country's biggest security and intelligence agencies together to form one super-portfolio and puts Peter Dutton at the helm. So how will it work?

Mr Jennings said the new intelligence boss would have the power to change how agencies operate, recruit and brief senior government figures.

The changes were recommended by former Department of Foreign Affairs secretary Michael L'Estrange, who yesterday released a review of intelligence operations with recommendations.

Mr L'Estrange told the ABC the new intelligence boss would ensure agencies cooperate and have the resources to keep Australia safe.

The former US director of National Intelligence James Clapper — whose position will now be replicated in Australia — said there was merit in adopting a similar strategy.

"I do think there is merit in having somebody who can look at intelligence as an enterprise and decide on a systematic basis, where to make investments and where to make divestments," he said.

Source: Peter Dutton's super-ministry promotion overshadows intelligence shake-up - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)