155. As discussed in the 'Year in Review' section of this report, my predecessor, Mr McLeod, was asked by the Government to conduct an inquiry into the leaking of sensitive documents at the (South Pacific) Forum Economic Ministers Meeting in July 1997.
156. The most sensitive of the documents which found their way into the public domain were a series of assessments which had been prepared by ONA, as part of the briefing package provided to relevant Ministers and senior officials.
157. Mr McLeod was invited to conduct this inquiry as an experienced and respected public servant rather than in his statutory capacity.
158. In the course of his inquiry, Mr McLeod met with the Director-General of ONA, Mr Richard Smith AM, and interviewed several of his staff. Mr McLeod was satisfied that none of ONA's staff were in any way implicated in the chain of events which led to the disclosure of the briefing material.
159. ONA is, as its name suggests, an assessment agency. As such, its activities are largely confined to producing intelligence assessments, setting intelligence priorities, and leading and supporting higher level committees on intelligence and security matters.
160. The Director-General of ONA occupies a unique position which offers insight to how the disparate elements of the Australian Intelligence Community mesh together. In light of this, Mr McLeod and I have separately met with the Director-General of ONA on several occasions to discuss matters of common interest, as well as specific issues as they arise.
161. I see much merit in continuing such contacts.
162. My office received no complaints about ONA during the reporting period.