24 August 2023



An unofficial history of Australian Signals intelligence &
the advent of cyber

Access a video of This event

UniSA Video

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professor john blaxland
clare birgin

Professor John Blaxland, an international security and intelligence services expert from the Australian National University, and Clare Birgin, a former Australian diplomat will be in conversation with Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington AO, Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Enterprise at the University of South Australia. The discussion will revolve around their book, Revealing Secrets: An Unofficial History of Australian Signals Intelligence & the Advent of Cyber.

For a long time, the Australian Signals intelligence (or Sigint) story has been kept secret. Until now…

Why does Australia have a national signals intelligence agency? What does it do and why is it controversial? And how significant are its ties with key partners, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand, to this arrangement?

Revealing Secrets is a compelling account of Australian Signals intelligence, its efforts at revealing the secrets of other nations, and keeping ours safe. It brings to light those clever Australians whose efforts were for so long entirely unknown or overlooked. Blaxland and Birgin traverse the royal commissions and reviews that shaped Australia’s intelligence community in the 20th century and consider the advent and the impact of cyber. In unearthing this integral, if hidden and little understood, part of Australian statecraft, this book increases our understanding of the past, present and what lies ahead.

Click HERE to purchase a copy of John Blaxland & Clare Birgin's Revealing Secrets from Matilda Bookshop's website and choose 'Hawke Centre Events Free SA Postage' as the delivery option. They will then deliver or post your book to SA addresses at no additional cost, or it can be collected at the event on the night.

A recording of this event will be available approximately one week after the event.

Presented by The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre 



professor john blaxland
international security and intelligence studies

John Blaxland is a Professor of International Security and Intelligence Studies at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (SDSC), Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, at the Australian National University (ANU) and a regular media commentator. He has previously been a Chief Intelligence Staff Officer (J2) at HQ Joint Operations Command, defence attaché to Thailand and Myanmar, Head of SDSC and Director of the ANU Southeast Asia Institute.

Professor Blaxland presented Australia And Its Security Challenges, Near and Far, as part of the Hawke Centre's 2018 Program.

Research Profile

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clare birgin

Clare Birgin’s career in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) spanned 30 years, with a focus on national security and intelligence.

She had postings in Warsaw, Moscow, Geneva, and Washington DC as the Liaison Officer of the Office of National Assessments, followed by postings as Ambassador in Hungary, Serbia, Kosovo, Romania, North Macedonia and Montenegro. Subsequently, she was a Visiting Fellow at the ANU before joining John Blaxland’s history writing team. She has been awarded the Polish Government’s Knight’s Cross Medal and the Bene Merito Medal by the former Polish Foreign Minister.


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professor marnie hughes-warrington ao
Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Enterprise 

Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington AO is the strategic and operational leader across research activities at the University of South Australia. Her role is to design and deliver approaches that help staff and research students alike to engage with industry, government and community to deliver novel and transformational solutions to problems, and to change the ways that we think about the world.

A graduate of the Universities of Tasmania and Oxford, Marnie has a strong global profile as a philosopher and as an historian who seeks to explain why histories and historical thinking play an important role in making a good, fair and just world. The impact of her work has been broad: her writing has been translated into five languages, over 26,000 copies of her books have been sold, and her theories are taught across the world.

In 2022, Marnie was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for "distinguished service to tertiary education and governance as an administrator, leader and mentor".

Research Profile

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Presented by
The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre



While the views presented by speakers within The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre public program are their own and are not necessarily those of either the University of South Australia, or The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, they are presented in the interest of open debate and discussion in the community and reflect our themes of: Strengthening our Democracy - Valuing our Diversity - Building our Future. The Hawke Centre reserves the right to change their program at any time without notice.