Mike Burgess ASIO intelligence
ASIO head Mike Burgess (Image: AAP/Darren England)

Australia's spy chiefs sure like to come out of the shadows.

Former defence secretary Dennis Richardson brought ASIO "out of the shadows", according to Greg Sheridan, twenty years ago. Former ASIO head David Irvine was the "spy who came out of the shadows", according to a sycophantic column on his retirement.

Successor Duncan Lewis was praised for being "no stranger to the public stage. As the official authority on Australia's security he has, like his predecessors, been the public face of updates on the terrorist and foreign interference threat."