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Wednesday, 24 August 1994
Page: 310

(Question No. 1575)

Senator Calvert asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 22 July 1994:

  (1) Please provide a description of `speakeasys', purchased at a cost of $8 384 367.73 from Telecom Plus, Bruce, ACT, by the Defence Materiel Division, Materiel Branch, in June 1994.

  (2) What is the purpose of this purchase.

  (3) Where will they be utilised.

  (4) How many were purchased.

  (5) What other equipment was purchased to support the `speakeasys'.

  (6) Who will utilise them.

Senator Robert Ray —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

  (1) Speakeasy is an encryption device jointly developed by the Australian Defence Signals Directorate and Telecom Australia. It is used with a standard telephone handset to provide protection of information classified up to Top Secret. It is designed to provide secure voice, data and facsimile communications over the Australian and international public communications carrier networks.

  (2) Speakeasy will provide the Defence organisation with a common cryptographic device to enhance national communications interoperability. Development of this capability was endorsed by Government in October 1991 and its eventual use encouraged by the Secretaries Committee on Intelligence and Security.

  (3) Speakeasy will be used throughout the Defence organisation wherever classified information is to be passed over a public telephone circuit.

  (4) 1091 Speakeasy devices were purchased. Further devices will be procured over time by the individual Defence Programs as their needs require.

  (5) A cryptographic management system, compromising a PC and a database, is to be procured to automate the existing manual system for managing such equipment. Some briefcases will also be procured for the carriage of Speakeasy.

  (6) Defence personnel seeking to pass classified information over a public carrier circuit will be able to use Speakeasy.