Australia’s intelligence chief says a lawmaker worked with foreign spies

The so-called "A-Team" spy network has identified Australia as a "priority target"

3 mins read

The country’s intelligence chief said a former Australian politician had “sold out” the country after being recruited by a foreign intelligence service.

Mike Burgess, Director General of Security at the Australian Security Intelligence Agency, said the unidentified politician targeted Australia’s defense industry and sought information about the AUKUS partnership with the UK and the US.

Speaking at his annual threat assessment in Canberra on Wednesday, Burgess said they had confronted the foreign spy network and reported that they had been compromised.

The MP in question offered foreign spies, the so-called “A-Team”, access to the family of the then prime minister.

According to, Alex Turnbull, son of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, claimed he was one of the targets of suspected Chinese agents while working on an infrastructure project.

“It was very arrogant,” Turnbull told the broadcaster.

My reaction was to express my lack of interest and immediately forward the details to the authorities.

Burgess, who did not name the country involved in the spying, said the foreign spy agency “successfully approached and recruited a former Australian politician” several years ago.

The spies pose as consultants, bounty hunters, local government officials, academics and think tank researchers, claiming to work for fictitious companies.

They often offer consulting opportunities to their targets and promise to pay thousands of dollars for reports on Australian trade, politics, economy, foreign policy, defense and security.

Allegations of spying by a retired MP have raised concerns in Canberra, with many calling on the spy agency to reveal the name of the retired politician.

Burgess described the A-Team as an “aggressive and experienced” foreign intelligence network whose “primary target” was Australia.

The retired Australian politician has not been charged with a crime and is no longer working with the group, Burgess said, adding that the operation had been disbanded.

This politician sold out his country, his party and his former colleagues to advance the interests of the foreign regime. At one point, the former politician even offered to bring a member of the prime minister’s family into the orbit of the spies.

Fortunately, this plan did not materialize, but other plans did.

In a clear reference to the Chinese hacker group Volt Typhoon, which has previously been accused by the US and Australia of infiltrating Western critical infrastructure, Burgess said a nation-state was trying to scan and target water, transportation and energy networks in Australia and other countries.

“We believe that this government is not actively planning sabotage but is trying to gain permanent and undetected access that could allow it to sabotage in the future,” he said, without specifying the country.

China’s Foreign Ministry had earlier called the hacking accusations “baseless” and “highly irresponsible”.


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