ASIO's director-general of security has assured Australians of his "confidence" in the security of the agency's new $630 million headquarters, despite allegations blueprints for the facility were stolen by Chinese hackers.
Appearing at Budget Estimates, David Irvine sought to assure Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and the Australian public that he is "satisfied that the security of the ASIO building is and will be meeting the very, very high standards that are required of a building of that nature."
He agreed with Ludlam that the agency had information security controls that among the most stringent in the country, but skirted a question over whether the alleged breach was a black mark on intelligence agencies being able to be trusted with other types of data.
In particular, Ludlam raised the data retention proposal that ASIO has been pushing for, which would see two years of internet users' metadata retained for use by law enforcement agencies.
"If ASIO's not able to keep track of the floor plans of its $600m building, how can we trust intelligence, security and policing agencies to maintain the records of the entire Australian population for two years?" Ludlam queried.
"That's a very neat way of trying to, if I may say so, ... get me to comment on an operational, intelligence and security matter which I cant really do," Irvine said.
"I've given you an assurance that the ASIO building is of a very highest security order, and I am confident of that, and I would expect that confidence should be reflected in the confidence in the Australian public for ASIO to maintain — as it has always maintained — the security of the information it holds, including the security of the information it holds on Australian individuals."
Irvine said one "frustrating" but "necessary" element of his job was not airing intelligence or operational matters in public.
He declined to specifically address the alleged hacking incident. The Greens are pushing for an inquiry.
Separately, Irvine also refused to disclose whether or not ASIO is the mystery third agency that has been using Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act to block websites.
"I am not going to confirm a particular incident, again under our confirm and deny policy, but it is open to ASIO to seek under ministerial direction to use the Section 313," Irvine said.