'Cyber threats are unrelenting': Australia's national security to get $570 million boost


ASIO and the Australian Federal Police will receive $570 million in extra budget funding for counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence programs.

Australia's counter-terrorism and counterintelligence operations will get a funding injection of more than half a billion dollars in the upcoming federal budget.

The $570 million boost includes packages for ASIO and the Australian Federal Police, and will fund programs such as anti-drone technology for the AFP.

Funding would also be used to bolster intelligence-gathering in war zones, probes into foreign fighters wanting to return to Australia, and artificial intelligence technology for ASIO.

Australia Street: What do want to see in the budget?
Australia Street: What do want to see in the budget?

The AFP will receive the bulk of the funding, getting an additional $512 million.

"The terrorist threat to Australia remains at probable, cyber threats are unrelenting and increasing and there are new and emerging national security challenges," Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said in a statement on Saturday.

"The AFP is now conducting seven times more counter terrorism operations and monitoring eight times the number of people of interest than it did five years ago."

What senior voters are looking for in the budget
What senior voters are looking for in the budget

In a statement Labor said the government had "been dragged kicking and screaming to restore funding" to security agencies ahead of the election.

"Most notably, last year, AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin confirmed the 2018-19 Budget contained a $205 million cut to resourcing for the AFP over the forward estimates - impacting their work to tackle fraud, organised crime and anti-narcotics," Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus and Shadow minister for Justice Claire O'Neil said.

"As a result of Liberal cuts, AFP staffing was predicted to fall from 6448 personnel in 2018-19 to 5881 personnel in 2021-22 - an extraordinary reduction of 567 AFP personnel."

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will deliver the budget on Tuesday night, with a federal election due in May.

Mr Morrison clarified on Saturday that the security funding boost was not related to the Christchurch mosque massacre but in recognition of "the growing threat of extremist terrorism in so many different forms".

"Remember, we have thwarted 15 terror attacks in Australia, and we need to make sure that our authorities have the resources to keep doing that," he told reporters.

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