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Speech at the opening of the ASIO National Headquarters, Canberra



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JOH

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR FEDERAL MEMBER FOR WARRINGAH

23 July 2013

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR REMARKS AT OPENING OF ASIO NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS, CANBERRA

EO&E...........................................................................................................................................

Prime Minister, Aunty Janette and the Chifley family, ladies and gentlemen.

It’s fitting that this building should have been started under the Howard Government, opened under the Rudd-Gillard Government and operated under whichever government emerges after the next election, as all governments of either persuasion have strongly supported the operations of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.

As the Duke of Wellington once observed, “all the business of war, indeed all the business of life is finding out what you don’t know from what you do”.

As the Crown’s first spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham said, “intelligence is never too dear”. And that’s what I thought as I looked around the magnificent new premises.

We do have real enemies. We do face real threats. Some of them are internal and they do need to be monitored. We only sleep safe in our beds at night because of rough men on our borders and because of smart men and women huddled over computer screens in buildings such as this.

For all the challenges that it has faced over the past 60 odd years, ASIO has been remarkably successful. Serious security lapses have been very rare and actual, as opposed to threatened terrorist incidents, have been almost unknown in this country.

Remarkably there have been no acts of terrorism in Australia in the post-September 11 world and I pay tribute to the professionalism and the patriotism of ASIO and its staff for helping to bring about this happy situation.

I also acknowledge the aptness of naming this building after the Prime Minister who gave ASIO its beginning. Ben Chifley was Australia's every man Prime Minister. His famous admonition that our great objective, our light on the hill is not to put sixpence in peoples' pockets or make someone premier or Prime Minister but to work for the betterment of mankind, not just here but wherever we can lend a helping hand. It is something that should apply to all parties and to all members of Parliament.

I noticed the other day the current Treasurer seemed to recognise that universal quality to Ben Chifley when he said that in today's circumstances Ben Chifley could have been a Liberal or even a Green but I doubt that very much. Ben Chifley was far too sensible for that.

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Ladies and gentlemen, this is an important occasion for our security services and therefore it is an important occasion for our nation. I pay tribute to all of those involved in the protection of our country. To the military personnel in Afghanistan, to the naval forces in the waters to our north, to the police, state and federal, and indeed to the security services of our country on this important and bipartisan occasion.

[ends]