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Australia opens new SIGINT office, defense housing HQ

Australian Signals Directorate office
Minister for Defence Peter Dutton and Assistant Minister for Defence Andrew Hastie at the new Australian Signals Directorate cyber and foreign intelligence facility in Canberra. Photo: Australian defense ministry

The Australian defense ministry marked the 75th anniversary of the Australian Signals Directorate by opening a new facility for the signals intelligence agency in Canberra last week.

The country’s defense minister, Peter Dutton, said intelligence and cyber experts would come together under one roof to provide a robust strategic cyber capability.

Staff from multiple government agencies will work at the new Majura Park offices, including ADF and law enforcement personnel.

Dutton recalled the ASD’s history during his address, from decoding enemy radio signals during WWII to offensive operations against cyber criminals today.

“Cyber is the new frontline,” Dutton said.

“There is a lot that goes on within the ASD that Australians will never hear about,” minister Dutton said.

Dutton added that Australia was in the cross-hairs of malicious cyber activities and investment in agencies such as the ASD would help keep Australians safe online.

The announcement came days before the opening of an exhibition on April 1 at the National Museum of Australia showcasing the people, stories and artefacts from the ASD’s history.

The exhibition is one of a number of events taking place this year to mark the organisation’s anniversary.

Director-General ASD Rachel Noble said the exhibition, named DECODED, provided a rare insight into the secret workings of the agency.

“So many of our former and current staff have never been able to tell anyone much about the work they have done,” Ms Noble said.

As part of the anniversary, records from the Vietnam War and Malaya Emergency are set to be declassified this year.

Secret communications about SAS training in Vietnam could be included in documents soon to be released.

In addition to the new SIGINT office, the Australian defense ministry also marked the official opening of a new Defence Housing Australia (DHA) head office in Gungahlin. DHA is responsible for housing and related services to Australian defense force members.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel, Andrew Gee, and senator for the ACT, Zed Seselja, officially unveiled the new premises on March 28.

“Providing housing for the men and women who serve this nation, and their families, is fundamental to the ability of our defense members to do their jobs, knowing their loved ones at home have security and comfort,” minister Gee said.