House debates

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Questions without Notice

Defence Procurement

2:47 pm

Photo of Angie BellAngie Bell (Moncrieff, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Defence. Would the minister update the House on how the Morrison governments plan for a stronger future includes key defence investment that will help to insure Australians are kept safe and secure from all threats?

2:48 pm

Photo of Peter DuttonPeter Dutton (Dickson, Liberal Party, Minister for Defence) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the honourable member for Moncrieff for her question. Like all of us on this side of the House, she wants to make sure that we can help to protect Australians online. We want to keep their households safe, we want to keep their businesses safe and we want to keep our institutions safe. As we've seen in Ukraine, a significant number of cyberattacks have taken place on Ukraine. Whilst Australians understand the investment that we've made into nuclear propelled submarines and the money that we're putting into tanks and into additional staff within the Australian Defence Force and additional fighter jets et cetera to keep our country safe, this is the latest instalment in our plan to keep Australians safe.

We are pledging about $10 billion over the course of the next decade, because, whilst Australians may not see the activity online every day, our country is already under attack online. We know that there are state actors such as Iran, such as North Korea, such as Russia, such as China, who are attacking Australian systems each day. And we've seen in other jurisdictions where they have been able to infiltrate systems, where they have been able to affect the water supply, the energy networks and the telecommunications networks. We realise that we have to invest more into the Australian Signals Directorate, which is part of the Australian Defence Force; they are the men and women who are involved in defending our systems. This is, as I say, a $10 billion investment.

It's interesting to look at the words of the UK's Strategic Command General Sir Patrick Sanders, who says:

If this was an air war, it would be the Blitz…

The intensity and the frequency of the attacks are on the same scale and if we let too many so-called bombers and their payloads through then it will sow the seeds of defeat.

If we allow people into our telecommunications network, if we allow our banking system to be closed down, that will have catastrophic consequences on confidence in this country. It will result in our personal records being exploited, and it will result in very significant economic damage being done to our country.

This side of the parliament has invested consistently into the Australian Defence Force. We back the men and women of the Australian Defence Force. We have a plan to keep Australians safe. We have a plan to defend our country, and this is a very important frontier. We're putting money into development, along with our partners in space technologies, in AI and in quantum, and we're keeping Australians safe online. We will continue to do so. We can only invest this money because of the management of the budget and because of the management over the course of the last couple of years that has resulted in our ability to keep our country safe.

2:51 pm

Photo of Anthony AlbaneseAnthony Albanese (Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

BANESE (—) (): on indulgence—I join the Minister for Defence in praising those great men and women at the Australian Signals Directorate, and I thank the minister for helping to facilitate my visit to the ASD headquarters here in Canberra. They do a great job keeping us safe, and this will be even more important in the future.