House debates

Wednesday, 16 February 2022


Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure Protection) Bill 2022; Second Reading

4:42 pm

Photo of Jason FalinskiJason Falinski (Mackellar, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I will be speaking directly to the second reading amendment that the Labor Party has moved, the member for Gorton specifically, to the Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure Protection) Bill 2022. When you look at the terms of the second reading amendment you will see that virtually nothing can be out of order in this debate because the amendment is cast in such broad terms that you can basically talk about fusion on the sun and that would be relevant to this bill. We all know why they do this. They do this so that their stupid, undergraduate games played by the Open Foundation where they can make out that those members on this side of the House—

An opposition member interjecting

I notice the member opposite laughing. Of course they laugh. You are the joke. The members opposite are the absolute jokes of this parliament. They take votes from crossbenchers who claim to be in favour of climate change action but who attempted to hide a donation from the director of a coal company who bought his coalmine from Eddie Obeid, and those opposite laugh! They are an appalling group of individuals who simply have misled and misinformed the Australian people through their stupid little puerile games conducted by the Open Foundation. They come in here every single day and move some second reading amendment because they think they are being oh so clever, like none of them ever left the student representative council at Bond University. That's how they operate; that's the sort of government we could expect from them, a government run by puerile undergraduates. We don't really have to imagine very hard. We only have to look back to when they were last in government in 2010 and relying on—you guessed it—the votes of the crossbench!

But this time we'll have a very special crossbench, paid for by Simon Holmes a Court, who was today at the National Press Club, where he was making all sorts of claims about how you can move as many—

Photo of Steve IronsSteve Irons (Swan, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I call the member for Gellibrand on a point of order.

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

It's a point of order on relevance. This is a bill about securing Australia's critical infrastructure against the threat of—

Photo of Steve IronsSteve Irons (Swan, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

There is no point of order. The member for Gellibrand will resume his seat.

Photo of Jason FalinskiJason Falinski (Mackellar, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Gellibrand should have spent more time at the SRC at Bond University really honing his craft on how to play silly games in an elected chamber. But what we do here actually matters. There is one point that I'll take from him, which is that this is about critical infrastructure. Those opposite have opposed a bill to secure Australia's critical infrastructure. Why have they done that? Because they have no idea how to govern Australia.

What they do know, however, is how to misinform the electorate, how to play silly games through their mates at the Open Foundation and how to accept votes from the crossbench. They know how to accept votes for the crossbench, bought and paid for by Climate 200. That hides their donations from directors of coal companies who bought their mines from Eddie Obeid. They don't like anyone talking about Eddie Obeid. But this director of a coal company also had an adverse finding at the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption. I was listening to Simon Holmes a Court today—and, by the way, what Kendall Roy is to Succession Simon Holmes a Court is to Australian politics. I haven't seen a similarity that stark in a long time. What we got from Mr Holmes a Court today was one slogan, and behind that slogan was another slogan. If you dig far enough, you'll find the slogan-making sausage machine funded by the director of a coal company who bought his mine from Eddie Obeid. Simon Holmes a Court said he has three values, by which he means three slogans: climate change action, women and integrity.

Let's not judge them by their rhetoric. Let's judge them by what they do. On climate change, I can't think of a greater challenge requiring serious people to make serious points and come up with serious policies. Those on this side of the House came up with net zero by 2050, a fully documented 200-page plan, with billions of dollars in investment and funding for renewable energy.

Opposition members interjecting

I can't believe those opposite want to be interrupting at the moment, given that they are taking votes from a person funded by a coal investor and a coal director whose money came from Eddie Obeid's coalmine.

Photo of Steve IronsSteve Irons (Swan, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I call the member for Isaacs on a point of order.

Photo of Mark DreyfusMark Dreyfus (Isaacs, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Attorney General) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Mackellar really does need to direct his remarks to the subject matter of the debate, which is a critical infrastructure bill. He's using the second reading amendment to support this spray, which simply reflects the member's fear of losing his seat to an Independent.

Photo of Steve IronsSteve Irons (Swan, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I call the minister.

Photo of Michael SukkarMichael Sukkar (Deakin, Liberal Party, Assistant Treasurer) Share this | | Hansard source

The debate on the amendment has been very, very wide ranging throughout this afternoon. Just because the member for Isaacs doesn't enjoy what the member is speaking about is not a reason to be confining the debate in a way it hasn't been confined for other speakers.

Photo of Steve IronsSteve Irons (Swan, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'll just remind members that it is difficult to hear when you are yelling and screaming out like at a football match.

Photo of Jason FalinskiJason Falinski (Mackellar, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Deputy Speaker, I will seek to keep my voice at a lower tempo so you can hear the interruptions. I understand that the member for Isaacs has a perennial fear. He goes on ad nauseam about integrity, but Eddie Obeid sat in his party for years. Now we find that he was granted, according to the Independent Commission Against Corruption in New South Wales, an unlawful coalmine where the processes were illegal. At that point, he then used those profits to hand it off to a donor who then sold that mine and used those proceeds to fund crossbench MPs whose votes those opposite now accept. It is incredibly difficult to understand why the member for Isaacs doesn't want to investigate this process. He has referred something like 10 or 11 items to the Federal Police. I wonder if he has referred this incident to the Federal Police, or is it really that he's just not interested in the policy, that he's not actually interested in improving integrity in Australian politics, but is more interested in the politics of it and accepting votes from people who receive tainted donations.

We've heard the explanations, by the way: first, it didn't happen. Then it did happen, but it wasn't serious. Then it did happen, but it was a rookie mistake. And, now, it did happen, but I didn't know about it. Then it did happen, but it was a rookie mistake, I didn't know about it and the person who did it has now resigned. But the problem we have is that this person is the shareholder of the Climate 200 fund that Simon Holmes a Court is using to fund all these fake Independents. I just wonder why they are laughing at the fact that our democracy is being undermined by things like the open foundation, and that's why they move these wide-ranging second reading amendments—so they can talk on anything and they can criticise anyone they like. But they don't like it when the tables are turned on them.

What I might suggest to those opposite is that they come in here and they deal with the substance of bills in front of us. I know this works at the Bond University student representative council. I know that this was probably a very clever tactic back in the nineties. But the fact of the matter is we are trying to run a country here, and when people take donations from coalmine executives whose donation is tainted, for whom there was an adverse finding at the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption, you have to wonder why those opposite are not more curious. I'm curious why suddenly their integrity on the policy of integrity doesn't seem to have much integrity, and maybe the member for Isaacs could stand up and explain that, because, under his second reading amendment, he could pretty much talk on whatever he likes. So he should do that, and often does, I might add, on many different bills.

What we could actually talk about is the Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure Protection) Bill 2022. We could talk about that, but those opposite would rather move smart alec amendments so they can just have a go, while at the same time then referring all of this to their mates at the open foundation that run a website designed to misinform the Australian people. I can only assume that those opposite have concluded that the Australian people aren't smart enough to see through their tactics and, further to all of that, that the only way they can get elected is by misinforming people, by saying that they're in favour of climate action while accepting money from a coalmine investor, who—I don't know if I've mentioned this yet—invested in a coalmine that used to be owned by Eddie Obeid.

All these things really do matter when it comes to integrity. All these things really do matter when it comes to running a government and the parliament of this nation. If those opposite us are sincere, which I somehow doubt—but I hope that I am wrong—they will, instead of actually moving all of these second reading amendments, actually come in and have a debate around ideas and policies that really matter and stop accepting tainted money and votes from people whose money it was— (Time expired)

4:35 pm

Photo of Mark DreyfusMark Dreyfus (Isaacs, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Attorney General) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm going to begin by making a statement of the obvious: Labor supports effective and rational measures to secure Australia's critical infrastructure. I'm a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee, which reviewed the original version of the Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure Protection) Bill 2020. As other speakers in this debate have noted, the committee's bipartisan report, which was tabled on 29 September 2021, recommended that the original bill be split in two and that very significant parts of the bill not proceed at all in their original form. Just to make sure that all members of the House understand the significance of this: this is a committee that consists of six government senators and members of this House and five senators and members of this House from the Labor Party. Those 11 members unanimously recommended that the original government bill be split in two, and that a very significant part of the original bill not proceed at all.

The reason why the intelligence committee recommended that very significant parts of the original bill not be proceeded with is that they were neither effective nor rational. For example, the original version of the bill included proposed new positive security obligations for workers and businesses who operate and maintain a vast array of infrastructure assets across Australia. But the detail of exactly what those positive security obligations would or could be and who those new obligations would apply to was left entirely to regulation, and the government couldn't provide the intelligence and security committee with any real insight into what those regulations would look like. This meant that the breadth and potential impact of the government's legislation was uncertain. In other words, the government wanted the parliament to hand it a lot of power to do something, but it couldn't tell the parliament exactly what that something was.

While the government's intentions were unclear, perhaps even to the government itself, what was clear to Liberal and Labor members of the intelligence and security committee was that the powers sought by the government had the potential to impact literally hundreds of thousands of workers and businesses across Australia. And yet the government couldn't explain how those measures would improve the security of critical infrastructure.

Of serious concern to all members of the intelligence and security committee was that despite the impact that the proposed measures could have for the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Australian workers, the government did not consult workers or their representatives, and barely consulted with industry, before the introduction of the original version of the critical infrastructure bill. The government accepted the intelligence committee's recommendation to split the bill in two so that the parts of the bill that had been identified as urgent could pass the parliament without delay, and the other parts of the bill could be reconsidered and redrafted in the light of the committee's comments and feedback from key stakeholders. The parts of the Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure) Bill 2020 that the Department of Home Affairs identified as urgent passed the parliament last year with bipartisan support, following a number of amendments being made to implement recommendations of the intelligence and security committee.

And that brings me to the bill before the House today, which contains the remaining elements of the original bill, but, we all hope, in an improved and amended form. That remains to be seen, because this bill has, appropriately, been referred to the intelligence and security committee for inquiry and report. But in a significant breach of convention, the government has insisted that the bill be debated in the House of Representatives before the committee has completed its inquiry. My colleague the shadow minister for defence, the member for Gorton, has already outlined Labor's concerns about the government's departure from convention. It's also a matter of concern to me personally, as a member of the intelligence and security committee—and I expect that it's a matter of concern to all other committee members, whether Labor or Liberal.

The bill is now before the intelligence and security committee, and has only been introduced into the parliament very recently—in fact, last Thursday. And so, as is customary, Labor's final position on this legislation will be determined after the committee has completed its review. And just for the assistance of the member for Mackellar, the second reading amendment moved by my colleague the shadow minister for defence deals with a single matter. Not the broad-ranging, invented concept that he was talking about, but a single matter, which is the breach of convention involved in the government bringing on this debate ahead of the inquiry and report by the intelligence committee—and that is the only thing that the second reading amendment deals with.

It being the case that serious concerns have already been raised with my office about inadequate consultation by the government on this bill, including a lack of consultation with industry, workers and unions, my colleagues and I will be pursuing that lack of consultation in the inquiry. Labor members will also be looking very carefully at the extent to which the various other recommendations set out in the intelligence committee's earlier report into the original version of the critical infrastructure bill have been implemented in the development of this legislation. The intelligence and security committee does not make recommendations for fun. They are the product of extensive deliberations between committee members, Labor and Liberal, after careful consideration of the evidence that's brought to the committee. We expect them to be implemented. If one or more of the committee's recommendations have not been implemented in this case, the Department of Home Affairs and the government had better have a good explanation.

I also note that a number of recommendations have been made by the intelligence and security committee in other contexts that go directly to the security of Australia's critical infrastructure and the security of the personal data of Australians that the government still hasn't responded to. In October of 2020, for example, the committee recommended that the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act be amended to require service providers to store telecommunications data on servers located in Australia. The government has not responded to, let alone implemented, that recommendation.

The intelligence and security committee is an essential bipartisan institution. Until the member for Cook became Prime Minister, the committee's role in the development of national security legislation was invariably respected and sometimes lauded by all sides of politics. In recent months, we have seen an escalation in desperate, divisive, irresponsible rhetoric from the Prime Minister and some of his senior ministers on matters of national security. We saw that desperate, divisive, irresponsible rhetoric being repeated in question time today. No serious and responsible person from either side of politics or indeed from outside the political arena thinks that the politicisation of national security is in the national interest.

I've previously referred in this place to remarks that the former Attorney-General, George Brandis, made in his 2018 valedictory speech about the importance of bipartisanship on national security issues. In that speech, Senator Brandis listed three reasons why our domestic national security policy had been, in his opinion, successful during his time as Attorney-General. The second reason he listed was bipartisanship. Referring to eight national security bills introduced by the Abbott and Turnbull governments and supported by the Labor Party in both Houses, Senator Brandis said:

All eight tranches of legislation were passed with the opposition's support after scrutiny by the PJCIS. It was a fine example of government and parliament working hand in hand to protect the national interest. I have heard some powerful voices argue that the coalition should open a political front against the Labor Party on the issue of domestic national security. I could not disagree more strongly. One of the main reasons why the government has earned the confidence of the public on national security policy is there has never been a credible suggestion that political motives have intruded. Were they to do so, confidence not just in the government's handling of national security but in the agencies themselves would be damaged and their capacity to do their work compromised. Nothing could be more irresponsible than to hazard the safety of the public by creating a confected dispute for political advantage.

Senator Brandis's reference to 'powerful voices' in the coalition who were arguing in favour of politicising national security, contrary to the national interest, was widely understood to be a reference to the current Prime Minister and the current Minister for Defence. I disagreed with Senator Brandis on many matters, but, on this issue, he was absolutely correct. When politicians seek to use national security as a political weapon, it's bad for our country, it's bad for our security agencies, and, ultimately, it's bad for our national security.

We've seen the same characters on the other side of the chamber seek to politicise national security and Australia's security agencies before. When the current government leaked what was said to be ASIO advice to the Australian newspaper to launch a political attack against Labor in February 2019, the then director-general of ASIO, Duncan Lewis, could not have been clearer. After making it clear that the ASIO advice had been misrepresented and distorted in newspaper reports, Mr Lewis went on to say:

When reporting wrongly attributes advice from ASIO, or where our classified advice is leaked, it undermines all that we stand for.

I urge members of the government to reflect on those comments by the former director-general of ASIO, Mr Lewis, which he made on 18 February 2019, and to go back and read Senator Brandis's valedictory speech. While you're at it, I would encourage you to read the current director-general of ASIO's recent comments to Senate estimates, where he made a similar point.

5:05 pm

Photo of Katie AllenKatie Allen (Higgins, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak on the Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure Protection) Bill 2022. Critical infrastructure is:

…those physical facilities, supply chains, information technologies and communication networks which if destroyed, degraded or rendered unavailable for an extended period would significantly impact on the social or economic wellbeing of the nation, or affect Australia's ability to conduct national defence and ensure national security.

Typically, these assets are used in the supply of services critical to us all: communications, defence, food and water, health care and, of course, critical transport sectors. It goes without saying, therefore, that critical infrastructure is pivotal to the functioning and prosperity of every one of our lives and, indeed, the proper functioning of our nation. Any disruption to this critical infrastructure could be devastating to Australian businesses, leading to supply chain and service industry failures affecting us all.

Designed to strengthen critical infrastructure assets, this bill will protect the assets to ensure the continuity of essential services in this country. The potential risks of a disruption to critical infrastructure are significant, with the Australian way of life at risk without adequate protections in place. We could see shortages or destruction of essential medical supplies; supply chain issues for food and water; and the failure of our telecommunications network, so crucial to communication in this country. In addition, our transport and traffic management systems could be disrupted. The finance sector could be shut down, and business and government may be unable to function. These are risks that cyberwarfare and other threats may pose. They may sound apocalyptic, but that's because they are.

Australia is lucky to not have experienced any of these at scale in any significant way just yet. But we cannot be complacent about the very real threats that our dependence on the internet, the cyberworld and data generation pose to the functioning of society. Those threats are very real. For instance, in just the last three years there have been numerous cyberattacks on the federal parliamentary network. Further, malicious actors have conducted cyberattacks on health organisations and medical research facilities. Moreover, logistics businesses transporting groceries and medical supplies have also been subject to attacks attempting to derail these systems. Quite extraordinarily and very concerningly, the Australian Cyber Security Centre handled over 1,600 cyber incidents in the last two years alone, with approximately one-quarter of these incidents affecting entities associated with Australia's critical infrastructure. That's 400 times where Australia's communications, food and water supply or defence systems were under threat of malicious activity.

The immensity of these risks has itself called for action. In line with the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security's advisory report on the Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure) Bill 2020, the bill before us today aims to address these very real threats to our safety and the prosperity of our nation. This advisory report, alongside over 12 months of industry consultation, has informed the reforms within this bill.

There are two key obligations of this bill which I will outline now. Firstly, critical infrastructure entities must maintain a risk management program whereby any potential material risks for the assets are identified and a concerted effort is made to reasonably mitigate the risks. This program would be then reported to a board, council or governing body of some kind to ensure compliance and effectiveness of the reporting. In doing so, the impact of hazards will be mitigated and the operation of critical infrastructure assets ensured. As the member for McPherson and Minister For Home Affairs noted, this kind of risk management is increasingly important, considering the interrelated nature of our critical infrastructure systems whereby Australia's economy, security and sovereignty are at stake.

Secondly, this bill provides that critical infrastructure systems that are nationally significant would have to be declared as a governing body. Due to this, critical assets will be identified and any interdependencies of assets across key sectors will be noted. This will allow for the potential consequences of the asset's failure to be recognised early and then risk-managed accordingly. Under this bill's reforms, the secretary of home affairs may require the development of cybersecurity incident response plans, cybersecurity exercises to build cyber-preparedness, vulnerability assessments to identify vulnerabilities for remediation, and the provision of systems information to build Australia's situational awareness. These reforms are crucial, as they will not only mitigate the risk of crisis but also improve Australia's ability to respond if just such a crisis does, in fact, arise. There are, of course, other measures within this bill which are being considered as well, and these measures include compilation using feedback received from stakeholders and aiming to improve the efficacy and efficiency of the statutory framework. Some of these measures include amending the classification system of critical infrastructure assets, and clarifying their impacted stakeholders, who have a right of reply to any ministerial decision enforced.

While the government notes the urgency of these reforms, they have been made in a considered fashion, with extensive industry consultation. To find the balance between maximising additional security for the nation and minimising compliance costs is difficult, but I trust that this bill, with so much consultation put forward, has found the right mix. Even post passage of this bill, the government will continue to collaborate closely with relevant industry professionals to ensure that the reforms are not only effective but do not place any excessive regulatory burden on these entities.

This bill is the second step in our plan to strengthen Australia's critical infrastructure in the national interest. This bill comes after extensive consultation with industry and will create a risk-management program, enhanced cybersecurity obligations, the systems of national significance, and updated information-sharing provisions. The obligations do not apply automatically and must be selectively 'switched on' by the minister. This bill has been developed by the Minister for Home Affairs and recognises the supply chain challenges due to the pandemic that the transport and food and grocery sectors are still managing. The best approach to managing our critical infrastructure from attacks is partnership between business and government that leverages expertise and reflects the complex and evolving nature of the threat. These reforms are a key part of the government's Cyber Security Strategy 2020 and help protect the security of essential services that Australians rely on every day and the sovereignty of our nation.

While those on this side are working hard to keep Australia and its critical infrastructure safe, those on the other side are complaining needlessly—in fact, those opposite have come into this debate to complain about us bringing on this important legislation. The protection of our critical infrastructure, however, is not something that can be delayed. Just to outline the progress of this legislation and the consultation engaged in, the key elements of this bill were first introduced in the parliament in December 2020. They were part of the critical infrastructure package that was extensively viewed by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. The bill was split late last year, and the first half passed.

The exposure draft of this bill, the Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure Protection) Bill 2022, has been out since the end of last year. The government worked extensively across the summer to consult widely with industry on the further development of this bill, and, in particular, on the risk management plans that formed the main element of this bill. The minister personally hosted nine round tables with the sector to hear their views. The important Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security has received several iterative briefings on this bill, including a briefing just last week on the finalised bill. So it is disingenuous for those opposite to say they haven't had time to consider this bill properly. The bill has been, appropriately, referred to the PJCIS, and the committee will report back before the bill is debated in the Senate. But let's be clear: this is important and urgent legislation. It is national security legislation. If those opposite want to play political games and whinge and complain in this place, it pretty much sums up their approach. It's not about what's in the national interest; it's all about political pointscoring to them.

The importance of this bill cannot be understated in a time of ever-increasing security threats. We can see that the world, post COVID, is becoming more unstable. We hear from the Northern Hemisphere that a great deal of security issues are potentially at foot—most notably, cybersecurity threats. We might feel that the Northern Hemisphere is a long way from here—but the cyberworld has brought the world closer to us. We had the tyranny of distance; we now have the power of proximity. But with that wonderful connection through the internet comes ever-increasing security threats. We must make sure that Australian businesses and governments keep up and stay ahead of these risks.

The Morrison government is committed to ensuring the security of Australia's critical infrastructure. By securing these assets from any shocks, the availability of vital services will be maintained for all Australians. This bill will ensure the prosperity of Australia by ensuring the assets maintaining our way of life are not at risk of any threats—whether that be malicious actors, national disasters or other perils. For that reason, I commend the bill to the House.

5:16 pm

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

I'm disappointed to be speaking on the Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure Protection) Bill 2022 in the chamber today. It's not because the content of the bill isn't important—despite the bizarre rant we saw from the member of Mackellar today, which really reduced himself and the seriousness of the issues we are dealing with here. This bill is important; the security of Australia's critical infrastructure in the face of cyberattacks is one of the most important national challenges we face in the modern world. And, also, it's not because the contents of the bill are not urgent amidst a deteriorated cyber-environment; this government has already wasted far too much time acting on these issues as it is. I'm disappointed to be speaking in this debate today because this debate trashes an important convention on the way the parliament has engaged in debates about national security legislation dating back to the Howard government.

Labor has always sought to offer constructive bipartisan engagement to this government on defence and national security matters. It's in the national interest to do so, and that's what animates us. Unfortunately, these consistent offers of bipartisanship require a willing partner. The Morrison government lacks either the competence or the intent to treat bills like this in a bipartisan matter. There are reasons for suspicions on both fronts: on competence, this government has a growing record of bungling and incompetent mismanagement on defence and national security policy, including cybersecurity; on intent, this is a government with a growing record of trashing parliamentary conventions on national security legislation and an increasing, disturbing and damaging practice of deliberately sacrificing the long-term national interest in the pursuit of short-term political gain on defence and national security.

It's worth looking at the history to understand this. The previous Minister for Home Affairs introduced the original bill into the house on 10 December 2020. This was designed to better protect Australia's critical infrastructure assets from a growing range of cyberthreats. He did this by expanding the coverage of critical infrastructure from four sectors to 11. He introduced positive security obligations for critical infrastructure assets and enhanced cybersecurity obligations for assets deemed to be systems of national significance.

The original bill was referred for inquiry and report to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security in the usual matter. No-one doubted the need for these laws; people just wanted to get it right. And I said so in my second reading speech on the first of these bills when I noted that addressing the worsening threat was both an urgent and difficult task; it required PJCIS oversight. In September last year the PJCIS issued a bipartisan report on this bill. It's fair to say that the committee was scathing in its assessment of the original bill following an avalanche of objections by stakeholders who felt that they had been ignored in the bill's consultation process. In response to these concerns the committee, chaired by a government senator and with a government majority amongst its members, declared that it couldn't recommend that the bill be passed. The committee said:

While the Committee strongly supports the aims of the SOCI Bill, it would need a significant amount of re-drafting to pass in its entirety and respond adequately to many of the concerns expressed to it during this review. This would delay significantly the time-critical elements of the Bill.

So it recommended the bill be split in two, with the most urgent parts of the bill passed immediately and other less urgent and more complex elements of the package deferred to a separate bill. The committee report said that, once reintroduced, bill 2 should be referred to the PJCIS for review, with a concurrent review of the operation to date of the amendments to the Security of Critical Infrastructure Act resulting from bill 1.

It is this bill 2 that is before us in the chamber today. It was introduced into this place late last week. There is a longstanding bipartisan convention that bills be referred to the PJCIS and reported on before they are brought on for a vote in either chamber. There's an important reason for this. It's the same reason that we have the PJCIS: to ensure that the parties are able to work together on national security matters in the national interest. It's intended to allow for issues with bills to be scrutinised, for evidence to be weighed and for members to thrash out the issues before they are asked to take a position on them in this parliament. It's an important convention for maintaining constructive bipartisanship on Australian national security in this place, and it's a convention that has worked well since the PJCIS was established under the Howard government—one of those conventions that helps this place work better for the people who sent us here. It's a convention that helps us uphold the interest.

The Morrison government will break this convention by asking members of this House to vote on the bill before its consideration by the PJCIS. It will be the first government to break this convention since the PJCIS was established, just as, in 2019, it broke the convention that bipartisan recommendations of the PJCIS be adopted by the government. This government's willingness to trash bipartisanship and to trash important parliamentary conventions on the treatment of national security legislation sets a disturbing precedent and damages Australia's long-term national interests. Indeed, the Minister for Home Affairs had the chutzpah to lecture the Labor Party on the urgency of this bill in question time this week, adding a little partisan kicker to her dorothy dixer answer when she said:

We understand that national security is a very serious task and not one that should be risked to a party that lacks the resolve or the gravitas to tackle serious issues in a responsible and resolute way.

That comment was unbecoming of the minister and I think she knows it. But, given her invitation, let's examine how responsibly this government has treated the issues in the bill and why the issues in the bill are now so urgent. This Prime Minister's first act on coming into power was to abolish the dedicated ministerial role for cybersecurity that his predecessor established in the 2016 Cyber Security Strategy. Wasn't that a farsighted decision? It was obvious to everyone but this Prime Minister that cybersecurity would only grow in importance as an issue in national security and geostrategy. At the worst possible time, this Prime Minister destroyed all political leadership on cybersecurity within the Commonwealth. Cybersecurity became the last item on the bottom of the to-do list of the already busy home affairs minister. It was below even the Ruby Princess.

This is no exaggeration. This is what happened. Despite ransomware growing to become a billion dollar drag on the economy, during his time in the role, the former home affairs minister never once used the word in this chamber. It just wasn't on his radar. It got less attention than the Ruby Princess. It was on my radar, though. I continually spoke in this chamber on the growing threat of ransomware through 2019 and 2020 and I, ultimately, released a discussion paper calling for a national ransomware strategy in early 2021. The Leader of the Opposition had the foresight to see the ongoing and growing importance of cybersecurity to Australia's national security and kept a position within his executive team to stay focused on it. It wasn't until I had spent nearly 10 months campaigning for a national ransomware strategy that this government adopted its Ransomware Action Plan that picked up on many of the issues that we had championed in our discussion paper.

We see the same drift and lack of political leadership on cybersecurity in the treatment of the issues in the bill before the House today. The genesis of this bill was in the 2020 Commonwealth Cyber Security Strategy. The problem is that this strategy wasn't released until four months after the four-year term of the 2016 Cyber Security Strategy had expired. It took the Morrison government 10 months to conclude its 2020 Cyber Security Strategy after it had finished its initial consultations with industry. That's why this bill is now so urgent: the issues spent the better part of a year adrift in the vacuum of political leadership created by this Prime Minister before the process for developing this bill even began. That's why this government is now desperately trying to cram the passage of this bill into the limited sitting days this Prime Minister has scheduled before the next election. It's a story of bungling followed by petty politicisation—a pattern we're becoming all too familiar with with the Morrison government.

This government bungles defence and national security policy because it's out of its depth and lacks the competence to do otherwise. And this government plays politics on defence and national security because it's out of its depth and doesn't understand the consequences of doing so. Given the current defence minister is the sixth defence minister in eight years under the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government, you might forgive him for still being on his training wheels. Any sensible defence minister still learning on the job would welcome offers of bipartisan support. Instead, defence minister No. 6's ignorance and the Prime Minister's political desperation have led them to trash the national interest on these issues in pursuit of short-term political gain.

Unfortunately for them, they lack the record to be credible. This is a coalition government that has announced more submarine deals than it has delivered commissioned submarines—in fact, it has cancelled more submarine deals than it has commissioned submarines! The six bungling defence ministers of the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government have wasted eight years on failed submarine procurements, only to have to start again from scratch. Again, the first submarine commissioned by this government won't be commissioned until the 2040s. The Collins class will be 50 years old by then! As a result, this government's defence bungling has left Australia with a serious decades-long capability gap at the worst possible time.

Under the bungling mismanagement of the six defence ministers of the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government, the Future Frigates program—the second-most expensive defence project in our history—is similarly over budget, massively delayed and plagued with problems. In fact, the Navy will have to choose between running them at full power and turning the radar on. There's an echo here of the $3.8 billion Taipan helicopters procured by these six bungling defence ministers of the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government, with doors that don't work and that you can't safely exit while the guns are firing—a bit of a problem if you're dropping into a battle zone! At these Senate estimates we've heard that the six bungling defence ministers of the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government have similarly presided over yet another downgrade in the flying-hour availability of the F-35s—25 per cent down this financial year and double-digit reductions across the forward estimates.

The defence record of the Morrison government is so shameless that it now seeks to play politics with Australia's national security. The bungling of this Prime Minister and his defence ministers extends beyond procurement and into foreign policy. This is the Prime Minister who mistakenly adopted Beijing's position on Taiwan as our own in a radio interview. He then doubled down and covered up this basic fundamental mistake with dissembling when he was called out on it by the foreign policy establishment, geostrategic experts and anyone who takes this issue seriously. Instead of acting in the national interest and copping his own mistake, he damaged our credibility by asking Australian diplomats to assert that black is white on one of the most sensitive and serious issues imaginable.

Defence minister No. 6 is no better. In the most difficult of circumstances, he has repeatedly referred to Ukraine incorrectly and insultingly as 'the Ukraine', including again in question time yesterday. As Ukrainian journalist Olena Goncharova has noted:

… saying "the Ukraine" is more than a grammatical mistake—it is inappropriate and disrespectful for Ukraine and Ukrainians.

It implies that Ukraine is a subregion of Russia. Russia's menacing of Ukraine could not be more serious and demands the full attention of our defence minister, and in this week, of all weeks, the defence minister should not be ignorantly adopting the language of the aggressors in this stand-off.

All this bungling reveals a prime minister and a series of defence ministers hopelessly out of their depth on defence, national security and foreign policy. We need strength in the face of the very serious security challenges our nation faces. But, underlying this strength, we also need competence. These issues are not easy, and constructive bipartisanship often means giving those doing a difficult job the benefit of the doubt. But we cannot give this government the benefit of the doubt on the politicisation of these issues. Their ignorance is no excuse for this.

There is a reason our country has never had a prime minister so desperate and shallow as to play politics on issues this fundamental to our nation's security. These actions damage the national interest, whether this Prime Minister grasps it or not. As Dennis Richardson, a former D-G of ASIO under the Howard government, a former secretary of the Department of Defence and a former Australian ambassador to the US, said today:

Traditionally, Australian governments have seen it to be in the national interest to have a bipartisan approach to critical national security issues. It is a long time since an Australian government has actively sought to create a partisan divide on national security.

These comments came after the Prime Minister and the defence minister sunk to a new low of political desperation when they sought to politicise ASIO's annual threat assessment for partisan gain. Former Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was right when he described this behaviour as 'reckless' because it 'undermines Australian national security' and 'uses matters of grave national security purely for crass political advantage'. Malcolm Turnbull belled the cat when he noted, 'It's just a sign of desperation.'

Despite the warnings from those who know better, the Prime Minister and defence minister No. 6 have continued to debase themselves on these issues in question time. They should listen to the people whose job it is to keep this country safe. In Senate estimates this week, director-general of ASIO Mike Burgess warned those in this place that his organisation was 'not here to be politicised'. He said:

… there may be people—officials or members of parliament or ministers—who choose to misuse that.


ASIO is here to serve our national interests—not sectional interests, or partisan interests or personal interests. So, hypothetically, our intelligence is there to be used for national interest purposes only, not interests of individuals—

however ambitious they may be to become prime minister or win the next election. That was my editorial addition there. I'll take the D-G's advice, and I won't make the subtext of his warning any more explicit in the House today. His message was clear enough as it is.

But I do say to those in the government: stop playing political games with national security. Respect the conventions of this House when it comes to the treatment of national security legislation like this bill before the House today. Understand that bipartisan engagement is a valuable national asset in the face of the very real security challenges that we now face. Don't desperately trash this. Don't sacrifice Australia's long-term national interest, at a time of acute danger, in pursuit of short-term political advantage. I know this Prime Minister proclaims that he doesn't think about his legacy, but that would be a very, very dark legacy to leave on leaving office.

5:31 pm

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

I don't get much of an opportunity to follow the media, so I don't know what's happening in the world, but I jumped into a car and ABC radio was on, and I was quite shocked to find out that China and Russia are meeting to discuss Taiwan and the Ukraine. As a person who is a published historian, which I'm very proud of, I take the keenest of interest in history. Jeez! If you can't learn from the past, you will suffer a repeat of the past. Russia and China are talking about Taiwan and the Ukraine. I was speaking to one of the three or four senior ministers in the government, and I said, 'I can't believe this—Taiwan and the Ukraine.' He said, 'Sudetenland and Austria.' There was a bloke called Adolf Hitler who said, 'All I want is Austria,' and two weeks later he said, 'All I want is the Sudetenland,' and two weeks later he said, 'All I want is Czechoslovakia,' and two weeks later it was Poland and then Russia. Well, if this is not a repeat of that!

Please. You are dicing with death here—the death of our nation. You live in an empty land. Take a 100-kilometre-wide strip starting at Cairns and going down through the golden nulla-nulla—Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. Take that out and dot it around Darwin. There are a million people living in a land the size of Brazil or the contiguous United States, almost as big as China and almost twice the size of the European Union. There's no-one living there.

You say: 'What? Are the Chinese going to invade?' They already have, under your stinking free trade agreement. When Prime Minister Tony Abbott stood up and clapped Andrew Robb, I said: 'He just signed his death warrant. They'll be gone within six months.' Within three months he was gone. You think the Australian people are so stupid, but they can see you out there signing these agreements and then telling us that it's a wonderful thing for us. Do you think we're so dumb? You say: 'What? They're going to invade us, are they?' Well, they're already in Darwin. Under the free trade agreement, they can bring in as many people as they like for a project—not a new project but a project. They are already. I'm not going to denigrate people, but the senior minister in the government gave the Ord stage 2 and stage 3 to China—gave. Thirty-one Australians applied for the water, and they gave stage 2 and stage 3. Well, alright—they've taken back stage 3. But they still have stage 2, which will probably be the biggest farming operation in Australia. But they own four of the other five big farming operations, the biggest farming operations in Australia.

Let me give you a geography lesson. Darwin is the port into northern Australia. Outside of the coal port at Abbot Point and Mackay Port, there are no ports in northern Australia outside of Darwin. The Ord is about one-third of the way to Perth. They own the Merredin airbase in Perth. The Merredin airbase was sold to China. Guess where the terminus is of the east-west railway line and the east-west highway—Merredin. It's 100 kilometres this side of Perth. They have the airbase, they have the water development, and they have the Port of Darwin. I don't know how many mines they own or how many pastoral companies they own or how much landmass they own, but it's a very substantial proportion. I said to the state member, who represents two-thirds of the northern surface area of Western Australia, 'How much of it do we still own?' And she said, 'About nil. We blackfellas are supposed to own some of it, but we're not allowed to use it, so forget about that.' It's almost all foreign owned. I said, 'By China?' She said, 'Yeah, probably predominantly.' That's from the member.

Who is responsible for this? What, were there penguins in Antarctica? That's a quote from a judge at Nuremberg, by the way. 'No, I was just taking orders; I just had to go along with what the government was doing.'—when you are the government! And the ALP—you were the government! You probably will be the government in a few months time. Are you going to do anything about it? Looking at your record, I would say that there's as much chance of a snowflake in hell as you doing anything about Darwin.

The most prominent leaders in this government said that they were going to do something about Darwin. They said they were going to do something about Global Switch. They said they were going to do something about universities, the Drew Pavlou incident, which was a day of shame for this nation. They were going to do something about missiles. They were going to do something submarines. They were going to do something about fuel security. Fuel security! I contacted the government at the highest level and said that all the trucks were going off the road in Townsville. I mean, a candidate for the KAP in Townsville had to be the person in Australia to blow the whistle on AdBlue. If you think China's not going to have a go at you, have a look at AdBlue. Every truck in Australia over eight tonnes has to have liquid urea, which is called AdBlue, in its petrol tank or is in very serious breach of the law. We were due to run out of AdBlue in the first week of February. The government officially informed in writing that they had it all under control. The first time they said they had it all under control. The second time they said that they had it all under control and they were setting up a task force—and every truck in Australia.

If you think I'm exaggerating, I rang up the biggest livestock hauliers in Australia, one of the biggest trucking operations in the country, and he screamed abuse and obscenities at me on the telephone. He said, 'You're supposed to be members of parliament, and every truck in Australia is about to cease operation.' Then I rang up the biggest mover of fruit and vegetables in Australia. I got a similar blast off him. How could a government not know that every truck in Australia was about to cease operation? And if you think China is harmless, they were just going to give us a little touch up and let us know who's the boss because they control the supply of liquid urea into Australia.

I will be moving the amendment to the bill, seconded by my very excellent colleague from Tasmania. But I want to say to the government that talked about Darwin. You were going to fix that up, but it's owned by China. You talked about Global Switch. You were going to fix that up. You talked about the Queensland university and the Drew Pavlou incident—Chinese influence. You had an inquiry. Yeah, that's what you do when you don't want to know. You're going to do something about missiles; you're going to do something about submarines; you're going to do something about fuel security; and you're going to do something about AdBlue.

Let me go to fuel security. We on the crossbenches might disagree violently on a lot of things, but at least we can come together for the good of the country. We're not here for shouting matches and proving the other blokes are the bad guys and I'm the good guy. We can work together, and we have formulated legislation. How could you possibly live in a country that is in the most perilous situation, with 25 million predominantly Europeans living in the middle of Asia on probably the richest resource nation in the world outside of Peru and the United States, I suppose. The empty part of Australia contains all of the iron ore and almost all of the coal. It contains all of our gold, silver, lead, zinc, uranium and aluminium. Is there anything else that we export? Yes, there is. Cattle! It's all in that empty area as well. And they're already here. They've got Darwin. They've got the Ord. They've got Merredin. They're already here. They don't have to knock on your door. They're already inside the house.

I'll go back to fuel security. If China embargoes our fuel—and don't say they don't do it because they already did it, with AdBlue. That is something that has to go in every fuel tank as part of our fuel in Australia, and China just cut it off in one hit. If you can't get the message, then you are very stupid, and future generations of our country will curse you. I tell you: they will curse you. So, when we raised the issue of fuel security—it was mostly the crossbenchers; it most certainly wasn't the opposition that raised the issue of fuel security—again and again and again, eventually, you had an inquiry. Then you said, 'Right oh, we admit we need emergency supplies.' You put the emergency supplies in the United States! And in a way I sort of love you for it because, in any conversation I am in, the government is the laughing stock. You put the emergency supply of fuel in the United States. If you do not have a globe at home, then get one and you will find that the United States is on the exact other side of the globe from Australia. That's where our emergency tanks are. And you're saying: 'We've got two or three weeks or three months'—or whatever it is—'supply in storage.' If China embargoes our fuel, you've got two days. There'll be queues of two or three kilometres in every single place.

Before I shut up, I will say that it's a little-known fact that, arguably, the major underlying cause of World War I was that Winston Churchill bought all the shares in British Petroleum. That meant the Anglos owned every single drop of oil on earth. It was owned and controlled by the Anglos. I'm exaggerating slightly, but only slightly. So the Germans said: 'Churchill is the minister for the navy. He's going to put diesel boats in. Oil trade will be cut off. We'll be a third-rate power. Either we fight or we accept we'll be a third-rate power.' So they went to war. There were other factors involved, as we all know. What was World War II about? It was about America embargoing fuel into Japan. What was the European war about? It was about Hitler trying to get to the oilfields. The whole thing was about Stalingrad; of course, that was the gateway to the oilfields. That's what World War II was about. As a young lad of 19 years of age, I joined up because we were at war with Indonesia and everyone was going to go. I was pretty scared. We were on a 24-hour call-up to go overseas and fight. What was it about? Indonesia had invaded the oilfields of Borneo. We were, once again, fighting a war in the interests of Royal Dutch Shell. Let me not be cynical and say: you've got to fight wars to protect your oil pipeline. We have 27 per cent of our fuel needs available to us, and we send it overseas! We can't refine it in Australia. So, with 27 per cent self-sufficiency—no, we send it overseas. Waste disposal? We can easily do that. The Germans, for the last two years of the war, got their diesel from waste disposal. Something I will say, they can produce 30 per cent of Australia's diesel requirements if they get legislation giving them waste from the major population centres.

Just let me turn to wars for one more moment. Since Borneo, we've been involved in the Gulf War. What was that about? Oil. We were involved in Afghanistan. What was it about? Oil. The Arab nations have cut off the oil supply on numerous occasions. It is the No. 1 weapon of war, but we have done absolutely nothing about it. The government talks about missiles. I have read four million books on warfare and history. This nation can be defended. It can be defended if we have 100,000 or 200,000 missiles—a missile fortress wall around our nation. It can be defended if every single boy, and arguably every single girl, gets a rifle and is taught how to use it. And if you think this is unreasonable or ridiculous, that's exactly what happened to me when I was 12 years of age.

I'm just being reminded that I have an amendment here that I need to move. I move:

That the following words be added to the end of the amendment moved by the Member for Gorton:   .", and the House notes that:

(1)this bill seeks to enhance the regulatory framework for Australian critical infrastructure assets, particularly to improve protection against cyber-attacks; and

(2)to ensure that the bill meets its stated objects, modifications be made to allow:

(a)coverage for Commonwealth and state and territory government data;

(b)coverage for critical data of Australian critical infrastructure providers that is stored offshore; and

(c)the declaration of a particular business's critical data to be of national significance and require that such data must not be stored, transferred or accessed outside of Australia.

I want to conclude by saying that Global Switch arguably control the information systems inside our armed forces. They're owned by China. (Time expired)

Photo of Sharon ClaydonSharon Claydon (Newcastle, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Is the motion seconded?

Photo of Andrew WilkieAndrew Wilkie (Clark, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

I second the amendment moved by the remarkable member for Kennedy and reserve my right to speak.

Photo of Sharon ClaydonSharon Claydon (Newcastle, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The original question was that this bill be now read a second time. To this the honourable member for Gorton moved, as an amendment, that all words after 'That' be omitted with a view to substituting other words. Now the honourable member for Kennedy has moved an amendment to the member for Gorton's amendment, adding other words. The question now is that the amendment moved by the honourable member for Kennedy to the amendment moved by the honourable member for Gorton be disagreed.

5:48 pm

Photo of David ColemanDavid Coleman (Banks, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention) Share this | | Hansard source

The Australian government is committed to working in close collaboration with industry to create an uplift in the resilience of critical infrastructure and the essential services that infrastructure provides for all Australians. Threats ranging from natural hazards to human induced threats, such as cyberattacks or from malicious trusted insiders, all have the potential to significantly disrupt Australia's critical infrastructure. The interconnected nature of our critical infrastructure means that the compromise of one essential function could have cascading consequences that could affect the essential services that all Australians rely on and lead to severe economic impacts. As these threats and risks continue to evolve in an increasingly interconnected world, so too must our approach to ensuring the ongoing security and resilience of these assets and the essential services they deliver, protecting our economy and our sovereignty. Where the Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure) Act 2021 enhanced the government's ability to respond to cyber-threats, this bill, the Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure Protection) Bill 2022, introduces preventative measures to ensure the continued protection of Australian critical infrastructure. This bill sets out two key obligations, the risk management program and the enhanced cybersecurity obligations for those critical infrastructure assets deemed to be Australia's 'systems of national significance'.

The risk management program asks critical infrastructure entities to identify material risks that could have an impact on the ongoing functioning of their critical infrastructure asset to, as far as reasonably practicable, eliminate or mitigate the risk of that impact from occurring and to report to government their implementation of the program. The set of proposed rules that will underpin the risk management program, presented within the explanatory material of this bill, create a principles-based framework that recognises both domestic and international standards. A principles-based rather than a prescriptive approach empowers the experts within each critical infrastructure entity to identify the best and most efficient way to uplift resilience in their sector, while providing the necessary framework to ensure an economy-wide critical infrastructure uplift in resilience.

There are some critical infrastructure assets that are so vital, interconnected and of national significance that if they were impacted by a cyberattack it would cause disproportionate, cascading consequences. The bill sets out criteria for the declaration of these assets as systems of national significance. These systems may be required to comply with enhanced security obligations. These obligations will support a bespoke, outcomes-focused partnership between government and operators of these systems to enhance cybersecurity and build an aggregated threat picture of cybersecurity risks to critical infrastructure in a way that is mutually beneficial to government and industry. A key focus of the government moving forward will be a comprehensive program of engagement and education for critical infrastructure entities to assist them to meet these new obligations through the reinvigorated Trusted Information Sharing Network, the TISN. The government is committed to partnership with and education of industry through the TISN to be the primary engagement mechanism to enhance the security and resilience of critical infrastructure, rather than a heavy-handed, regulatory approach.

This bill demonstrates the government's continued commitment to collaborating with and empowering operators of Australia's critical infrastructure to create the necessary uplift in resilience that will ensure Australia continues to be a safe and prosperous nation. I thank members for their contributions and call on them to support this very important bill.

Photo of Sharon ClaydonSharon Claydon (Newcastle, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you, Minister. The original question was that the bill be now read a second time, to which the honourable member for Gorton moved as an amendment that all words after 'That' be omitted with a view to substituting other words. The honourable member for Kennedy has moved an amendment to that amendment, adding words. Member for Kennedy, you're seeking the call?

5:53 pm

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

As I understand it, I am moving that this bill covers the information stored overseas, which the current bill does not. I'd like the minister to give clarification to the House on this point, because the reading of everyone on this side of the House and on the crossbenches says that it does not cover the information stored overseas.

Photo of Sharon ClaydonSharon Claydon (Newcastle, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

That's a question that you've asked of the minister, Member for Kennedy. I'm not sure if the minister wishes to respond at this point? No. Then the amendment that you have provided in writing and that you moved is what we are putting to the House now, Member for Kennedy.

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that the amendment moved by the honourable member for Kennedy be disagreed to.

A division having been called and the bells having been rung—

Order. As there are fewer than five members on the side for the noes in this division, I declare the question resolved in the affirmative in accordance with standing order 127. The names of those members who are in the minority will be recorded in the Votes and Proceedings.

Question agreed to, Mr Bandt, Mr Katter and Mr Wilkie voting no.

The question now is that the amendment moved by the member for Gorton be disagreed to.

Question agreed to.

Original question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.