House debates

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Questions without Notice

Foreign Investment

3:06 pm

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

Prime Minister, China's view of the Drew Pavlou incident revealed an insinuation into our teaching institutions. The revelation of strategic intrusion at Daru, Yam Island and Cape York's tip and the extraordinary Darwin Port stage 2 and 3 development decisions threaten territorial occupation. Prime Minister, it's understood you intervened to terminate China's Global Switch as the Defence information system's contractor. Surely, immediately terminating the extraordinary renewal of Global Switch's contract would be applauded by every Australian?

3:07 pm

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm pleased that the member for Kennedy is still quick on the draw and his athleticism knows no bounds. In response to the member's question, I'm advised that Defence has migrated its most sensitive data to a purpose-built data centre. Consistent with the whole-of-government hosting strategy, Defence data migrations of sensitive ICT data and assets was completed ahead of schedule and under budget prior to the expiration of the original Global Switch Ultimo lease in September 2020. Defence is now progressing work consistent with the strategy to migrate less sensitive and unclassified data assets to an alternative data centre.

I'm further advised that Defence has and will continue to retain full operation and control of its data holes. Within the Ultimo data centre, Defence has in place strict security arrangements, including 24/7 Defence security presence, remote CCTV monitoring and regular security audits.

The Foreign Investment Review Board, when I was Treasurer, at the time, put in place strict foreign investment conditions on operations and security since the initial transaction. Now this is important because, in addition to the mitigations that were put in place, this government announced and legislated the most comprehensive reforms of Australia's foreign framework that we've seen. Critical to those is the national securities test requiring mandatory notification for investments in sensitive national security land and businesses but also a last resort power giving the Treasurer further opportunity to review actions for which approvals have been given, if exceptional circumstances arise.

There are also stronger enforcement powers to increase penalties. The protections that were put in place as a condition of that approval means, if they are not adhered to, the Treasurer has the power to act in the national interest and intervene. These are powers that we've put in place to continually strengthen our Foreign Investment Review Board scheme. This is a world-leading scheme. It's designed to protect Australia's interests. We have had the most significant changes to this regime under this government, and we have maintained the confidence of foreign investment in this country at the same time, including through a pandemic. I can assure the member we take these issues extremely seriously. No government has acted more to strengthen our foreign investment rules to protect our sovereignty than this one.