US intelligence officials tipped off the Australian government about the espionage which occurred over more than a month, starting in February, Sydney`s `The Daily Telegraph` quoted sources as saying.
Four separate government sources confirmed that they had been told Chinese intelligence agencies were among a list of foreign hackers that are "under suspicion", the Australian newspaper said.
A probe is now said to be under way into the cyber attack which may have occurred on Australian Parliament House email network used primarily for MPs` correspondence and not on the more secure departmental network which Ministers use for sensitive communications, it said.
An intelligence brief to the Australian government by the CIA and the FBI is believed to have revealed that hackers had been accessing the computers of a number of Ministers.
The Attorney General Robert McClelland would neither confirm nor deny the cyber-spy incident.
"It`s the long standing practice of successive Australian governments not to comment on the operations of security and intelligence agencies. Australia`s security and intelligence agencies, as a matter of course, work closely and co-operatively with their international counterparts...
"The Australian government takes the issue of cyber security very seriously and is constantly strengthening cyber security measures. Australia has in place a range of measures including the Cyber Security Operations Centre within Defence Signals Directorate and a dedicated cyber investigations unit," McClelland told the newspaper.