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Wednesday, 28 March 2018
Page: 2360


Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaMinister for Communications, Minister for the Arts and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (11:28): I thank colleagues for their contributions. We are all in agreement that critical infrastructure is integral to our prosperity. Secure and resilient infrastructure does underpin the effective functioning of our society. It ensures we have continuous access to essential services for everyday life, such as food, water, energy and communications. The Security of Critical Infrastructure Bill 2017 and the Security of Critical Infrastructure (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2017 support the government's efforts to safeguard Australia's critical infrastructure. They will supplement existing federal, state and territory regulations and ensure that the government has the necessary powers to protect Australia from the national security risks of sabotage, espionage and coercion stemming from malicious foreign involvement in our critical infrastructure. The bills reflect consultation with states and territories and industry stakeholders. Importantly, they will also incorporate all nine recommendations made by the PJCIS. I thank members of the committee for their comprehensive review of the bills. Amendments have already been circulated to give effect to these. Earlier I also tabled the government's response to the committee report. We indicated in that that we accept all nine of the committee's recommendations. I'm pleased that the government, the opposition and the committee could work together to progress this important legislation.

The bills align with the government's clear intention to continue to cooperate and collaborate with all levels of government, regulators, owners and operators of critical infrastructure. They strike an appropriate regulatory balance by acknowledging the shared responsibility for managing national security risks while empowering the Commonwealth to intervene to mitigate a risk where existing regimes cannot be used. With these bills the government is taking the necessary steps to strengthen the security and resilience of Australia's critical infrastructure. I commend the bills to colleagues.

Question agreed to.

Bills read a second time.