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Labor expresses concern over committee findings on security of overseas missions and personnel



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SENATOR THE HON PENNY WONG LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS LABOR SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA

JULIAN HILL MP

DEPUTY CHAIR, JOINT COMMITTEE OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTS AND AUDIT MEMBER FOR BRUCE

LABOR EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER COMMITTEE FINDINGS ON SECURITY OF OVERSEAS MISSIONS AND PERSONNEL

Report 471: Security of Overseas Missions tabled yesterday by the Government- controlled Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit raises serious concerns about the safety and security of Australia’s 104 overseas diplomatic posts and more than 3,000 personnel.

DFAT has previously recognised the high risk environments in which our diplomats and other officials conduct activities on behalf of the Australian Government. (DFAT, Review of Diplomatic Security, May 2015 in ANAO Report No. 5 2017-18 p.14)

Despite this previous statement the Committee found that “a recurring theme of this inquiry was the lack of consistency and coordination in DFAT's management of overseas security".

Other findings include:  Slow progress in rectifying issues identified more than a decade ago in the preceding ANAO audit;  Inconsistencies in departmental record keeping, risk assessments and inspection

arrangements;  Persistent failings in staff training and systems - DFAT cannot track whether staff have completed critical, mandatory security training; and  A lack of clear commitments and timeframes on activities underway to rectify

identified issues.

The Committee also found that DFAT must strengthen its capability, particularly in the area of cyber security, and requested DFAT to report back on its cyber resilience and compliance with the 'Essential Eight' standards by July 2018.

The Minister has a duty of care for all our overseas staff, and must take responsibility for these serious failings and immediately explain what she will do to ensure the security of Australian personnel and their families serving overseas, as well as property and confidential information.

Labor calls on the Government to respond urgently to JCPAA Report 471 and to appropriately address all recommendations to ensure the security of the personnel serving in Australia’s overseas diplomatic posts.

THURSDAY, 10 MAY 2018

MEDIA CONTACTS: STEPHEN SPENCER 0423 596 573 CALLUM DRAKE (HILL) 0437 225 586

Authorised by Noah Carroll ALP Canberra