Monday, 11 September 2023
Private Members' Business
Firstly I want to commend the member for Grey for moving this important motion. It is something that we should be discussing in this House. Cybersecurity, national security and energy security are so important. I was in the House for the member for Solomon's words. He's a very good man. Anyone who was raised in the wonderful town of Yarra Glen is a good person, so I'm sure it was just a slip and he must have forgotten, but he did say that in the nine years of the Morrison government there was nothing done on cybersecurity, which didn't seem right to me, because I remember there was a program called REDSPICE, which was all about cyber and intelligence, so I thought I'd better quickly check. Google's a wonderful thing. REDSPICE was a $9.9 billion investment in cyber and intelligence. I'm sure, as I said, the member for Solomon, my good friend growing up in Yarra Glen, made an innocent mistake, so I just wanted to correct that for him.
What we're talking about here is the transition to net zero, which is a long and challenging road. We shouldn't be glib about this conversation, but we need to make sure that we avoid unintended consequences, and that is a very real risk. We need to ensure that we have a secure and reliable energy network. So when we talk about the Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre talking about the alarm of power being shut down for weeks, it is something we need to take seriously because the internet of things creates extra risk. It allows foreign operatives to not just hack into but to have backdoor access to many of our infrastructure networks, including solar.
One of the risks they talked about is that the entire power grid could be brought down, and it could take a week or two to recover. This isn't those on this side saying that; this is the Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre who have raised this alarm. Let's think about some of the implications. Let's look at one area, like farming, an area that I'm very passionate about. It links directly to food security. If we lose power in the grid for two weeks, our food production stops. Farmers cannot pick their crops, they cannot keep them cool and they cannot transport them to distribution centres to then move them to supermarkets. That's one example of the implications for us as a nation: our food security would be at risk.
As we move to this digital world, we've got amazing opportunities in AI and quantum, but they also use a significant amount of power—to store that data, to run their algorithms—and that puts additional pressure on our networks. If we look at EVs as an example: as more people move to electric vehicles, they need the power for their cars to get around. The June storms of 2021 hit my community significantly, and I was three weeks without power. Many were three to four months without power. When you go that long without power, you understand how important it is that we have reliable and secure energy at all times. In our household, and in many households in Casey at that time when we didn't have power, we were fortunate that we had our gas so we were still able to cook and we were still able to have hot water, which meant we could stay where we were. But, again, as we transition from gas in homes to electrification, it means that there is more risk for homes in times of emergencies and blackouts, which is why it's so vital that we get these decisions right, because, once the horse has bolted, you can't lock the gate.
There is definitely more we need to do to manufacture in Australia, absolutely. When 60 per cent of installed smart inverters are being supplied by Chinese manufacturers, and they're bound by the CCP national intelligence laws, that creates a risk. It creates an absolute risk that we need to address, and this government needs to ensure that there is a cybersecurity impact assessment, to look at these risks and understand where they are and what we can do to make sure that we've got that reliable energy in Australia. It's very easy to set a target. It's a lot harder to achieve that target, while ensuring that we've got cheaper prices and reliable power and, when we turn the switch on, the light comes on. It's the first, principal responsibility of all governments.