ASIO wants more funding to help it meet demand for advice on spying and foreign interference.

An increasing culture of espionage and interference are stretching resources at the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).

“Our capacity to provide our partners with advice is being outstripped by demand,” the spy agency said in its annual report.

“The significant growth in demand for our advice will continue to present a challenge for ASIO, necessitating a continued focus on the most valuable activities in collaboration with our strategic partners.”

Duncan Lewis, author of the agency's annual report, said ASIO is struggling to keep up with demand.

“With the terrorist threat showing no signs of significantly decreasing, ASIO has limited scope to redirect internal resources to address the increasing gap between demand for our counter-espionage and foreign interference advice and our ability to furnish this assistance,” he said.

Mr Lewis said that demand is only expected to grow.

“ASIO will need to build new capability and capacity to meet current and future demand for our trusted advice and expertise,” he said.

“We will necessarily prioritise our finite resources - across our counter-terrorism, counter-espionage and foreign interference, border integrity and protective security advice programs - towards addressing activities of the greatest potential harm to Australians and Australian interests.”

ASIO measures its own performance against eight criteria, falling short in two areas.

The first was in providing advice to national security partners, fighting “harmful espionage, foreign interference, sabotage and malicious insiders”.

ASIO said it only “partially achieved” its target in the second area - collecting foreign intelligence in Australia that advances the nation's security interests.

The spy agency said some collections operations did yield valuable and unique intelligence.

“The ‘partially achieved’ result acknowledges that we were unable to progress other collection operations requested by partners,” it said.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has pushed back against the call to increase funding, saying ASIO's funding and staffing levels go up every year.

The annual report detailed some of ASIO's activities for the past financial year:

  • Counter-terrorism leads resolved or investigated: 12,478
  • Disruptions of planned terror attacks: 3
  • Visa security assessments: 11,669
  • Personal security assessments: 32,887
  • Foreign Investment Review Board assessments: 275
  • Security assessments for access to sensitive sites and materials: 145,114
  • Security products evaluated: 87
  • Published counter-terror intelligence and security reports: 983
  • Published counter-terror and foreign interference intelligence and security products: 269
  • (Security) Zone 5 site inspections and reports: 81
  • Total employees: 1961
  • Budget: $547.4 million