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Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Page: 124

Mr Baldwin asked the Minister for Defence, in writing, on 24 November 2008:

In respect of the recent investigation by the Australian Federal Police into the circumstances surrounding the leaking of a defence brief containing sexual allegations about Australian soldiers and entertainer Tania Zaetta: (a) how many ministerial staff were interviewed as part of the investigation; (b) what was the classification of the ‘hot issue brief’ at the time it was received by his office; (c) did the classification of this brief change at any time; if so, when; (d) what security measures to protect sensitive information contained in such briefs were in place at the time; and (e) to whom in his office was the brief provided and what security clearances did they hold.

Mr Fitzgibbon (Minister for Defence) —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

(a)   All relevant people who were in receipt of the Hot Issue Brief were interviewed and investigated.

(b)   The brief itself was unclassified. However, as Hot Issue Briefs can contain sensitive information, staff have always been given clear and detailed guidance to ensure the information is protected.

(c)   No.

(d)   Defence takes its responsibility to protect sensitive information seriously and employs a range of measures to achieve this, including specific IT processes, as well as training and awareness programs. In addition, Defence’s internal ministerial support website provides clear and detailed guidance, inter alia, on the drafting and handling of Hot Issue Briefs, including privacy aspects. The brief was distributed to an approved list of Defence and ministerial staff. This list has since been reviewed and reduced in number.

(e)   The list of people in receipt of the brief will not be disclosed. All ministerial staff are required to hold and maintain a Top Secret clearance.