House debates

Monday, 9 September 2019

Statements by Members


1:57 pm

Photo of Tim WattsTim Watts (Gellibrand, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Communications) Share this | | Hansard source

Last week, the Morrison government's baddest MP and worst minister announced that Australia will be getting a new cybersecurity policy. The only problem is the Minister for Home Affairs. The major failing of Australia's cybersecurity policy over the life of the current Cyber Security Strategy has been the absence of political leadership and accountability from this tired third-term government.

When those opposite deposed Malcolm Turnbull, they orphaned Australia's cybersecurity policy. In the wash-up from the putsch they abolished the dedicated Assistant Minister for Cyber Security position. Cybersecurity was reduced to a conquest in the minister's campaign for bureaucratic empire building—just another trophy to put on the wall rather than a day-to-day policy focus for the minister. Australia's cybersecurity policy has suffered as a result. The lack of leadership and accountability have seen a series of initiatives announced and simply forgotten. Cybersecurity policy has been adrift in a bureaucratic miasma.

Late last year, a United Kingdom joint committee released a report into cybersecurity governance in the UK and concluded that without a dedicated minister:

…the Government's efforts will likely remain long on aspiration and short on delivery.

So, without a dedicated minister, cybersecurity policy is about as effective as a leadership challenge from the member for Dickson—long on aspiration and short on delivery. Australia deserves better. The next Cyber Security Strategy needs to reinstate a dedicated minister for cybersecurity in order to be effective. Labor has already done so. Those opposite should follow.