Statement on efforts to recruit former ADF pilots

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The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

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02 6277 7800

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9 November 2022

Last month we heard concerning reports that ex-Australian Defence Force personnel may have been approached to provide military related training to China.

At the time, I asked my Department to urgently investigate these reports.

The information provided to me so far presents enough evidence to warrant the need for a detailed examination into the adequacy of current Defence policies and procedures addressing this matter.

I have therefore instructed the Department to commence that process.

It’s no secret that Defence activities, people and assets are targets for Foreign Intelligence Services.

But let me be clear: Australians who work or have worked for the government in any capacity, particularly our ADF, who come into possession of the nation's secrets, have an obligation to maintain those secrets beyond their employment with, or their engagement with, the Commonwealth.

This is an enduring obligation and to reveal any of those secrets is a crime.

It's clear and unambiguous.

We already have a range of layered policies in place to protect Defence people, information and assets from foreign collection but if there are weaknesses in our system the Albanese Government will strengthen them.

I thank Defence for their urgent work to date on this matter.

We will have more to say upon receiving the recommendations in due course.

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