Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has backed ASIO chief Mike Burgess’ refusal to name the former MP who he said had betrayed Australia

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has backed ASIO chief Mike Burgess’ refusal to name the former politician who he said had betrayed Australia.

Australia’s top security chief is under intense pressure to publicly name the ex-politician who he said was recruited by undisclosed agents from an overseas network.

During his annual threat assessment on Wednesday, Mr Burgess said a former Australian leader had “sold out” the country to a hostile foreign state warning politicians and senior public servants are being actively targeted by foreign spies.

Following a mad game of “guess who” to identify the culprit, the security chief released a statement doubling down on his choice to keep the identity of the individual a secret citing the historical nature of the matter.

“There are multiple reasons for this, including the need to protect our sources and capabilities. In this case, while we want the foreign intelligence service to know its cover is blown, we do not want it to unpick how we discovered its activities,” Mr Burgess said.

Mr Albanese said he fully supported Mr Burgess’ decision and urged against further speculation.

“I’m not privy to all of the responses of the ASIO Director-General and obviously he’s talking about a time well before I was elected as Prime Minister,” he told ABC Melbourne on Friday.

“I think it’s important that he (Mr Burgess) speak for himself and for people, regardless of where we are on the political spectrum, not try to second guess his responses but essentially back in our agencies.

“They have my confidence to undertake the work they are doing.”

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton initially joined calls from former Treasurer Joe Hockey to publicly out the alleged offender.

“It’s pretty rough to essentially besmirch former politicians when he’s talking about one and the trouble is if he doesn’t indicate the name then there’s a cloud hanging over everybody else,” Mr Dutton told 2GB on Thursday.

But on Friday, Mr Dutton said he would respect Mr Burgess’ position.

“If he doesn’t want to provide the name on that basis, then we take his advice,” Mr Dutton said.

“It’s difficult when these allegations are made, because I think it casts a cloud over former MPs, that’s why I think if you can you should name the person, but Mr Burgess has outlined why he can’t and we accept that advice.”

Mr Albanese had slammed speculation from the Liberal leader as “incredibly irresponsible.”

“When it comes to national security we shouldn’t play politics with it. What we should do is listen to the experts and engage with the national interest – and that’s what I’ll do,” he said on Friday.

Following wide speculation, both former Labor senator Sam Dastyari and former NSW state MP Ernest Wong have released statements to publicly denying that they were the individual cited by Mr Burgess.

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s son Alex also revealed to media that he had been the target of a suspected foreign agent, which he reported to authorities straight away.

Read related topics:Anthony Albanese

Leave a Comment