House debates

Thursday, 11 June 2020

Statements by Members


1:36 pm

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

The Commonwealth government's 2016 cybersecurity strategy reached the end of its life more than seven weeks ago. The Minister for Home affairs, Mr Dutton, has been working on a new strategy for 10 months now. In that time a Department of Defence review expressed concerns about Australia's preparedness for cyberwar; the head of ASIO has warned that the COVID-19 pandemic has made Australia less safe as spies and cybercrooks exploit fear online; and ransomware attacks on major Australian companies from international criminal syndicates have become an all too common occurrence. In the last month alone we've seen successful ransomware attacks on Toll, BlueScope, Lion and across the ditch at Fisher and Paykel New Zealand.

It's clear that these attacks are accelerating as these cybercriminal syndicates turn their attention to our region, but cybersecurity remains at the bottom of the Morrison government's to-do list. Since the Prime Minister abolished the dedicated role in the executive for cybersecurity, on coming to office, no member of the Morrison government has even mentioned ransomware in parliament. Now, while Australian companies are being targeted by sophisticated, well-resourced international crime syndicates, Minister Dutton is MIA. He hasn't said a word about it. In contrast, Labor has released, in May, a discussion paper on Australia's national cyber-resilience canvassing the policies that Australia needs now to respond to the new cyberchallenges confronting the nation. It's time that the Morrison government followed Labor's lead and started taking Australia's national cyber-resilience seriously.