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.