DFAT defends security at Baghdad embassy


Claims diplomats at Australia's embassy in Baghdad are being protected by cut-price security have been dismissed as offensive by the head of foreign affairs.

Department secretary Peter Varghese dismissed media reports as a beat-up, saying they were misleading and inaccurate.

They had also created an extra security risk, he told a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra on Thursday.

"The suggestion we would run a cut-price security system is frankly quite offensive."

Mr Varghese insisted there was no additional risk to the embassy during the transition from a firm whose contract had expired to a new provider.

He hit out at disgruntled former employees who had spoken to the media.

The difference in the contract price - from $100 million over five years to $51 million over three years - reflected a change in the marketplace and salary levels.

Asked if Baghdad had become safer, Mr Varghese admitted the embassy was operating in a high-level risk environment.

"The structure of our protection regime in Baghdad is unchanged," he said.