Opposition 'treating national security as political plaything'

SHADOW attorney-general George Brandis's decision to go public with details of a briefing he received from Australia's intelligence agency has drawn criticism from a string of fired up ministers.

Four Corners aired allegations on Monday night that Chinese hackers had stolen top-secret blueprints of ASIO's new headquarters in Canberra.

When asked about the matter during question time on Tuesday Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the program contained "unsubstantiated allegations".

But Senator Brandis told Sky News on Wednesday he was told during his ASIO briefing the security breach had occurred "some time ago", and effectively accused Ms Gillard of misleading the Parliament.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus slammed Senator Brandis, describing his actions as "foolish, dangerous and incompetent."

Earlier Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese told reporters he was "surprised" Senator Brandis had shared details of the meeting.

"I'm not comment on a briefing to which I wasn't a part of between a security agency and a shadow attorney-general and frankly, I'm pretty surprised that the shadow attorney-general is commenting on briefings from ASIO," an angry Mr Albanese said.

"I don't intend to do it. I don't care what he says. I don't intend to comment on a briefing between ASIO and the shadow attorney-general to which I wasn't at and frankly, security briefings that I've had, I don't comment on."

The Coalition spent most of Wednesday attacking the government's national security credentials.

It hammered the government during question time, even taking the unusual step of asking backbencher Anthony Byrne a question.

On Monday Mr Byrne, as chairman of the intelligence and security committee, raised concerns in the Parliament about funding cuts to ASIO

In response to a question from Christopher Pyne, Mr Byrne accused the opposition of treating the issue of national security like a "political plaything".

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott raised Mr Byrne's concerns while addressing his national security team on Wednesday before they received a briefing from former ASIO boss Paul O'Sullivan.


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