Claims that Chinese hackers stole top secret blueprints of spy agency ASIO's new headquarters will not threaten Australia's new closer ties with the rising Asian nation, Foreign Minister Bob Carr insists.
Senator Carr has refused to confirm ABC reports that the cyber attack netted documents containing details of the massive new multi-million dollar building's floor plan, communication cabling layouts, server locations and security systems.
The claims come amid deepening concern about widespread and aggressive state-sponsored hacking by China, with further allegations its cyber spies have recently obtained sensitive Australian military secrets and foreign affairs documents.
Senator Carr says the government is "very alive" to emerging cyber-security threats but refused to confirm the ABC's specific claims on Tuesday.
"I won't comment on whether the Chinese have done what is being alleged or not," he told Sky News.
"I won't comment on matters of intelligence and security for the obvious reason: we don't want to share with the world and potential aggressors what we know about what they might be doing, and how they might be doing it."
Senator Carr said the claims did not jeopardise Australia's new so-called strategic partnership with China.
"It's got absolutely no implications for a strategic partnership. We have enormous areas of cooperation with China."
Shadow attorney-general George Brandis says the government needs to properly resource all national security agencies to counter cyber attacks, amid reports that recent public service efficiency measures have undermined their capabilities.
And he said a "no comment" from the government wasn't good enough.
"It's more than an operational matter because it goes to the integrity of the new ASIO headquarters," he said.
Senator Brandis said he was seeking an urgent briefing from ASIO head David Irvine.
The Australian Greens have called for a full inquiry. Leader Christine Milne said there had been a security blunder of epic proportions and the government needed to explain itself.
"The government is now going to have to come out and explain to people how there won't be a long-term security impact and what measures they are going to take to overcome whatever the damage is."
Independent senator Nick Xenophon said the government needed to be more open about what had happened.
"It seems now the government is hiding behind the cloak of national security to cover up a very embarrassing situation," he told reporters.
Liberal senator Eric Abetz quizzed senior officials in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet on the issue on Tuesday in Senate estimates hearings.
"What went wrong?" Senator Abetz asked.
But national security adviser Margot McCarthy reiterated that it was government policy not to comment on intelligence.
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