Labor alarmed at new spy powers report

Labor is concerned over the leaking of documents for new powers for an Australia spy agency

Labor says it's extraordinary a proposal to allow Australia's digital spy agency to spy on citizens at home appears to have been leaked.

News Corp Australia on Sunday reported the new powers, outlined in letters between the heads off Home Affairs and Defence departments, would allow the Australian Signals Directorate's cyber sleuths to monitor Australian citizens and businesses on home soil.

"There is obviously someone in the government who is very concerned about this proposal or this top-secret for Australian-eyes only document would not have been leaked," Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek told the Nine Network.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told the Seven Network there had been no request to increase the ASD's powers.

Ms Plibersek said Labor was happy to work with the government on national security, but had not been consulted on this issue and needed to know why any changes would be necessary.

The ASD at present can only gather intelligence on foreigners. Only domestic spy agency ASIO and the Australian Federal Police are allowed to access information at home and then only after obtaining a warrant signed off by the Attorney-General.

All the department would need would be the approval of the ministers of Defence and Home Affairs - Marise Payne and Peter Dutton - removing any judicial oversight.

"I am very concerned that superficially this looks like another Dutton power grab rather than any real effort to keep Australians safer," Ms Plibersek said.