Boy, there’s all sorts of stuff going on in Australia, right now. If only we were allowed to know about it.

First, there were the charges against She Who Cannot Be Named of They Who Must Remain Secret, for kidnapping and torturing a man for Reasons We Cannot Discuss. Now, comes revelations of a “former politician”, who likewise cannot be named, who was a spy for an Unnamed Foreign Regime. It’s the biggest spy-busting case since You-Know-Who and Wotzisname.

Revealing details of a spy network dubbed “The A-Team”, [ASIO director-general Mike Burgess] said if the agency had a threat level for espionage and foreign interference it would be classified as “certain … the highest level on the scale”.

Mr Burgess said several years ago, the A-Team “successfully cultivated and recruited a former Australian politician (who) sold out their country, party and former colleagues to advance the interests of the foreign regime”.

“At one point, the former ­politician even proposed bringing a prime minister’s family member into the spies’ orbit,” Mr Burgess said. “Fortunately that plot did not go ahead but other schemes did. Another Australian, an aspiring politician, provided insights into the factional dynamics of his party, analysis of a recent election and the names of up-and-comers – presumably so the A-team could target them too. ASIO disrupted this scheme and confronted the Australians involved.”

And who are they?

That’s for them to know, and us to find out.

While the ASIO boss didn’t identify the foreign intelligence organisation running the spy ­network, Chinese and Russian spies have been the most active in Australia targeting high-value ­assets across politics, business, public service and Defence.

“Right now there is a particular team in a particular foreign intelligence service with a particular focus on Australia – we are its priority target,” he said.

“The team is aggressive and experienced; its tradecraft is good – but not good enough. ASIO and our partners have been able to map out its activities and identify its members. We call them the A-Team – the Australia team,” he said. “The A-team members trawl professional networking sites looking for Australians with access to privileged information, and then use false, Anglicised personas to approach their targets.

“The spies pose as consultants, headhunters, local government officials, academics and think tank researchers, claiming to be from fictional companies such as Data 31.”

If that’s reminding you of any country in particular, read on.

Replicating modus operandi of Chinese and Russian spies operating in western countries, the A-Team offers payments for “inside or exclusive information” and promises potential recruits “consulting opportunities, promising to pay thousands of dollars for reports on Australian trade, politics, economics, foreign policy, defence and security” […]

“We have seen it try to recruit students, academics, politicians, businesspeople, researchers, law-enforcement officials and public servants at all levels of government,” he said.

The Australian

Possibly I need to get out more, but I haven’t heard of Russia trying to recruit students, academics, politicians, businesspeople, researchers, law-enforcement officials and public servants at all levels of government.

But “retired politician”, eh? No idea. Although, frankly, it could be anybody, especially on the Red Team.

But, speaking of retired politicians, and just totally out of the blue and off-topic: I wonder what Bob Carr and Paul Keating are up to, these days? And has anyone heard from Sam Dastyari, lately? Just wonderin’.

Punk rock philosopher. Liberalist contrarian. Grumpy old bastard. I grew up in a generational-Labor-voting family. I kept the faith long after the political left had abandoned it. In the last decade...