Spending on spooks a government priority
The age of entitlement might be over for some, but the spooks are not among them. There are six security and intelligence services in Australia, the largest of which is the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).
In 2004, it was getting by with 700 staff and a budget of $150 million. Now it has a staff of 1780 with a budget of $600 million at their disposal.
The budget for the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) has gone from $100 million to $300 million over the same period. The numbers in the Australian Federal Police have escalated from 1327 to 6400 in the last decade, while its budget has more than doubled to $1.6 billion.
And there is more to come. Apparently it is now necessary to boost the six spooks' budgets by a further $630 million to tackle “home grown terrorism”.
At the same time, the federal government has been busy taking the axe to legal assistance services, which lost $43 billion in funding last December. Cuts to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSIS), family violence prevention legal services, and community legal centres have left about 500,000 people a year unable to access essential legal services.
The chair of ATSIS was reported as saying that representatives of Indigenous legal services have been trying to meet Attorney-General George Brandis since last year’s election. They have had no luck so far. He’s obviously too busy supporting the spooks spying on the rest of us.