3 Dec 2013

Australia bracing for more spy leaks

7:06 pm on 3 December 2013

The federal government in Australia is bracing for more embarrassing intelligence leaks, but says it will not take a backwards step on spying.

Defence Minister David Johnston has told industry and defence experts that the government is assuming the worst when it comes to further possible leaks from fugitive US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Audio of the event in Canberra on Monday was obtained by The West Australian newspaper and made available on its website, AAP reports.

"Suffice to say that this is not an area that I can get into in great detail, but I simply say assume the worst," Senator Johnston said.

"We are watching with great acuity what is happening in the space. But we must assume the worst. There is no alternative for us."

Senator Johnston said an intelligence sharing arrangement between Australia, the United States, Britain, Canada and New Zealand had achieved "amazing and wonderful things".

"We have invested far too much to even contemplate a backward step," he said.

"We must assume the worst but we've got to toughen up and get on with the job."