House debates

Monday, 22 February 2021

Private Members' Business

Foreign Owned Data Centres

2:50 am

Photo of Bob KatterBob Katter (Kennedy, Katter's Australian Party) Share this | Hansard source

I move:

That this House:

(1) calls on the Government to:

  (a) immediately terminate all contracts with foreign owned external data storage centres, in particular, the Chinese owned facility, Global Switch; and

  (b) immediately and securely transfer all externally stored government data to Australian owned data centres;

(2) acknowledges that:

  (a) the recent contract extension between the Department of Defence and the Chinese-owned data centre, Global Switch, threatens our national security; and

  (b) this continued relationship was formed without due process or public tender;

(3) condemns the Government and the Department of Defence for seemingly placing cost savings above national security; and

(4) further acknowledges that having any government data stored by Global Switch is a national security risk.

I served in the Defence Force. I joined up voluntarily as we were going to war with Indonesia, which of course we did. My battalion was on 24-hour call to go overseas. I did a sigs course somewhere along the way. We had no mobile telephones and no computers in those days—none of those things. We used two-way radios and we used a code, which today is the equivalent of a fire wall. The codes were so easy to break. My instructor told me they were farcical, but you still used them anyway. Similarly today, the firewall is farcical, particularly against a sophisticated nation like China—arguably the most sophisticated nation on earth these days. A firewall is not going to stop them. To the people of Australia it is unbelievable that our information system inside the defence department is contracted out to a Chinese company.

There's possibly not a person on the planet who doesn't know about the aggressive nature of the Chinese government—not the Chinese people; I must separate that. It is a dictatorship. It is an expansionist, imperialistic dictatorship. There's not the slightest whiff of communism in that whatsoever. We know what is going on with the Uyghurs in the western province. Everybody on earth knows that there's a million people missing from the province. They're moving Han people in and concentration camps are being set up. If the world takes the same cowardly approach it did to Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong and Stalin, the same appeasement attitude that was taken in those days, it will lead to the same outcomes. It is now a matter of public record that 48 million people died under Mao Zedong, 28 million died under Stalin, and about 50 million died in the Second World War as a result of Hitler, because we didn't have the courage to stand up. Not only are we not standing up; we are grovelling on the floor. There is a full-scale foreign affairs inquiry into what happened at the University of Queensland, which is obviously run by the Chinese consulate. And we had Simon Birmingham, a minister in the government, greeting Mr Hoj, who was the vice-chancellor responsible for the decisions at the University of Queensland.

To show you how incredibly out-of-touch some of the people in Canberra are, we got a letter back from the defence department saying:

The safeguarding of Defence's data is of the utmost priority for my Department.

'Utmost priority'? You put a most aggressive foreign power in charge of it. Further, it said:

Defence has comprehensive security controls in place at the Global Switch Ultimo data centre ...

No-one can get in, except China, which is already in there and owns the system. They're keeping people out. Well, who are they keeping out? Australians? It goes on:

... to protect against compromise by a foreign power—

A foreign power owns it! They're saying 'to protect against compromise by a foreign power'. Mate, a foreign power owns it—

or other malicious actor.

They are the malicious actors! If there's anyone naughty on this planet—their aggression in the South Pacific is well known by every well-informed person on the planet, and they're making no secret about their aggression. Further, it says:

All of the most sensitive data was removed from this facility—

and they were stupid enough to put this in—

in May 2020.

Scott Morrison ordered them out in 2017. The man who is now Prime Minister of this country interfered in another portfolio because he was so distressed by what was going on in there, and, being in the very powerful position of Treasurer, he was able to do that. That was in 2017, he decided. But they inform us—they're stupid enough to inform us—that they didn't remove this information until May 2020. But they're inside the system, Madam Deputy Speaker Owens. [inaudible] to multiply physical security and cybersecurity control. To keep who out? Sylvester the cat? He hunts and runs at the canary cage. You put him in there, you're keeping him there and you're defying the Prime Minister—because, whilst the Prime Minister is defending his minister, by the same token—I'm sorry, Mr Scott Morrison—you're on record; you made the decision to kick them out, and it was a good decision, and you showed a lot of courage and leadership. We need you to show that again now. (Time expired)


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