A Charles Sturt University (CSU) intelligence expert has welcomed the forthcoming review of Australian intelligence agencies as vital for addressing the ever-changing international security environment.
"The review is needed as Australian intelligence agencies are addressing increasingly complex threats such as cyber-terrorism, the changing strategies of terrorists towards lone wolf attacks, and the resurgence of state based threats such as China and Russia," said Associate Professor Patrick Walsh, a former intelligence analyst and intelligence academic with CSU's Australian Graduate School of Policing and Security.
Professor Walsh said the Turnbull government should be applauded for establishing the review, as the threat environment was more complex now than immediately after the 9/11 attacks.
"We have also seen a resurgence of state-based agents who are using cyber-attacks for espionage to gain political and commercial advantages," he said.
The Gillard Labour Government carried out the last major independent review of Australia's intelligence agencies in 2011.
Professor Walsh said the new review should broadly aim to achieve four objectives.
"First, the review needs to map the latest changes in the security environment against the current capability of the Australian Intelligence community.
"Second, it needs to comprehensively investigate to how intelligence is being collected, analysed and disseminated. Are there more efficient and cost effective ways to do this?"
Professor Walsh also said the review needed to study how each intelligence agency handles change, in both the technological and political environments.
"We need to look at the use of technology by the intelligence workforce. The big question is whether the current analytical workforce is still fit for the massive changes in technology and changed threat profile. The ongoing dilemma is do we need more generalists or more specialist analysts?" Professor Walsh said.
"The review should also study intelligence leadership. While the intelligence community is not failing, previous reviews, particularly in US, have shown leadership is crucial for creating sustainable and resilient intelligence organisations.
"Intelligence leaders must be able to bring their organisations with them on the reform initiatives required to address an ever-changing security environment."
Finally, Professor Walsh said the review should consider current provisions for oversight and accountability.
"Given the growing complexity of national counter-terrorism legislation which allow a more proactive approach to intelligence collection and the impact of the Edward Snowden case on the community's perception of intelligence agencies, we need to review current oversight mechanisms such as the Parliamentary Joint Committee for Intelligence and Security and the role of the independent intelligence umpire, the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security," Professor Walsh said.