Inside the most secret room in Australia: Top spy agency lifts the lid on ultra-secure high-tech installation that’s one of the quietest places on earth
- Australia’s spy agency has finally revealed its ultra-secure ‘chamber of secrets’
- ASIO has a ‘floating’ room at Canberra headquarters to test listening devices
- Director-General Mike Burgess said the room is ‘an audio studio on steroids’
Australia’s spy agency has finally revealed an ultra-secure high-tech installation after denying its existence for years.
The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) headquarters are in the Ben Chifley Building in Canberra – but little is known about what happens behind the doors.
ASIO Director-General Mike Burgess took the ABC through the 250-metre corridor in the building’s basement and into the body’s self-described ‘chamber of secrets’.
Pictured: ASIO’s ‘chamber of secrets’, officially known as the ‘anechoic chamber’. The floor is like a trampoline, with large white panels to remove sound installed underneath
Officially known as the ‘anechoic chamber’, the room tests hyper-sensitive listening devices used by ASIO spies.
‘This is an audio studio on steroids,’ Mr Burgess told the publication.
‘This room is actually floating inside the Ben Chifley building. It’s physically isolated, so if the Ben Chifley Building was to vibrate, this building would not vibrate.’
The floor is like a trampoline, with large white panels to remove sound installed underneath. High heels are banned in the room due to the set-up.
Audio is played below the level a human ear can pick up but ASIO’s devices can hear the sounds loudly and clearly.
‘Perfect stillness and quietness is important as we are testing our listening devices,’ Mr Burgess said.
ASIO Director-General Mike Burgess took the ABC through the 250-metre corridor in the building’s basement (pictured)
ASIO are also making devices to catch other spies, as there are currently more foreign spies in Australia than there were during the Cold War.
Australian spies use a device that looks like a metal detector to find microphones and transmitters hidden in hard surfaces.
Mr Burgess said ASIO officers would use the device in the prime minister’s office and the Parliament House briefing room, among other locations where confidential information is shared.
At the beginning of the year, an Australian spy revealed what is it really like to work for the country’s secret service.
‘Sam’, who is an intelligence officer for ASIO, told 9 News that her job is nothing like the glamorous life of fictional spy James Bond.
The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) headquarters are in the Ben Chifley Building in Canberra – but little is known about what happens behind the doors
‘We are not running around and driving Aston Martins and drinking martinis,’ she said.
Sam was a nurse before she became a spy after the 9/11 terror attacks in the US and the 2003 Bali bombings.
Her work as an intelligence officer must be kept hidden from her family and she won’t say what she does or how she does it.
‘We are working to protect people from harm and that’s probably one of the most important jobs in the world,’ Sam said.