Harvey Barnett

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Harvey Barnett
6th Director-General of Security
In office
7 September 1981 – 28 July 1985
Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser
Bob Hawke
Preceded by Edward Woodward
Succeeded by Alan Wrigley
Personal details
Born Tudor Harvey Barnett
(1925-12-25)25 December 1925
Albany, Western Australia, Australia
Died 23 June 1995(1995-06-23) (aged 69)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Nationality Australian
Alma mater University of Western Australia
Occupation Intelligence officer
Military service
Allegiance Australia
Service/branch Royal Australian Navy
Years of service 1944–1956
Rank Lieutenant

Tudor Harvey Barnett AO (25 December 1925 – 23 June 1995) was an Australian intelligence officer who was Director-General of Security, the head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), from 1981 to 1985.

Early life and military service[edit]

Barnett was born in Albany, Western Australia to a family of shopkeepers. He attended an Anglican boarding school near Perth, and in February 1944 enslisted in the Royal Australian Navy during World War II. At the time of his discharge on 29 May 1956, he held the rank of Lieutenant in the RANVR Special Branch and was stationed at the shore training base HMAS Cerberus.[1]

After the war, Barnett returned to university to complete a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Western Australia, where he was a contemporary of future Prime Minister Bob Hawke. He spent some time travelling in Europe where he taught in England and Germany.[2]

Intelligence work[edit]

On his return to Australia in the mid-1950s, Barnett was recruited into the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), Australia's foreign intelligence agency. He was head of the Australian stations in Singapore, Cambodia and South Vietnam, and later rose to the position of Deputy Director-General of ASIS.[2]

In September 1981, Barnett was appointed Director-General of Security. On 20 April 1983, Barnett requested and was granted an urgent meeting with the newly elected Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, whereupon he briefed him on what he called a 'matter of national security'—ASIO was aware of several meetings between David Combe, the national secretary of the Australian Labor Party, and First Secretary of the Soviet Embassy in Australia, Valery Ivanov. In what became known as the Combe–Ivanov affair, Hawke resolved to remove any possibility of Combe being recruited by Soviet intelligence. Ivanov was expelled from Australia, and although the second Hope Royal Commission in 1984 established that attempts were being made to recruit Combe, no intelligence breaches had taken place.[3]

Three years after his 1985 retirement from ASIO, Barnett published his memoirs, Tale of the Scorpion (ISBN 0725105852).[2]


  1. ^ BARNETT, TUDOR HARVEY, World War II Nominal Roll, Department of Veterans' Affairs, 2002.
  2. ^ a b c Milliken, Robert (1 August 1995). "Obituaries: Harvey Barnett". The Independent. Retrieved 20 August 2014. 
  3. ^ D'Alpuget, Blanche (13 July 2010). "The spy who trapped a mate". The Australian. News Limited. Retrieved 20 August 2014. 
Government offices
Preceded by
Edward Woodward
Director-General of Security
Succeeded by
Alan Wrigley