Sunday, March 23, 2014

Australia’s Spy Agencies ASIO and ASIS put out the 'help wanted' sign

Are you a skilled public servant but can't find a job? Would you like to work in a new building once dubbed ''Lubyanka on the Lake''?

Then you should become a spy.

Jobs working for the government might be scarce - just 82 permanent jobs were available in the 160,000-person strong public service last week - but the Australian Security and Intelligence Agency and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service are hiring.

ASIO's number of staff is more than three times what it was 12 years ago, according to the organisation's publicly available figures.

A total of 1707 staff were employed in the agency, compared with just under 600 in 2000-01.

Its latest job ad offers a number of grade four roles with salaries of $68,568 to $87,300 a year gathering and analysing intelligence.

It appears the jobs will be based at the new $700 million building in Parkes, overlooking Lake Burley Griffin, which has reportedly received the ''Lubyanka'' nickname from sharp-tongued observers drawing similarities with Russia's former KGB headquarters, a neo-baroque building with just as much front.

But there are a few unique criteria to grab these ASIO jobs.

You cannot discuss your application with anyone and the organisation is looking for people who want a career rather than a stop-gap job. After all, the work involves battling espionage and counter-terrorism.

The security clearance required is more extensive than most public servants are used to and involves a detailed background check. According to a four-year-old report, only a small percentage of applicants are trusted enough to make it to the vetting stage.

Director-General of Security David Irvine recently wrote there had been an increase in Australians travelling overseas to participate in terrorist training or engage in foreign disputes. Syria is the primary destination.

''The concern is not only for Australians who risk their lives overseas, but also the likelihood of radicalised Australians returning home with an increased commitment and capability to pursue violent acts on our shores,'' he said.

The Australian Secret Intelligence Service is in the middle of a graduate recruitment campaign using an ad which says ''IQ + EQ = ASIS'' and has been displayed online and even in ACT cinemas.

Chosen applicants will be rotated through operational and non-operational work placements and have the opportunity to do specialist training and receive mentoring.

From there, ASIS chooses people who will be offered an ongoing position.

The service, which focuses on intelligence collection, is also searching for technologists who are experts in areas such as data science and IT security as well as intelligence officers, who will work overseas.

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