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Monday, 3 November 2003
Page: 21895

Mr McClelland asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 17 September 2003:

(1) In respect of paragraphs 37, 38 and 39 of the National Counter-Terrorism Plan, which Commonwealth agency is responsible for developing a database on nationally significant critical infrastructure.

(2) What is the definition of “critical infrastructure” for the purposes of the database.

(3) Who is responsible for determining which critical infrastructure will be included in the database.

(4) What test does the Government apply to determine whether critical infrastructure is of national significance or importance.

(5) To whom and by when are Commonwealth agencies, and States and Territories obliged to identify critical infrastructure for inclusion in the database.

(6) Has the Commonwealth Government identified a consistent format for Commonwealth agencies, States and Territories to follow when providing information on critical infrastructure within each jurisdiction; if so, (a) what information must be provided and in what format, and (b) when was that format communicated to Commonwealth agencies, States and Territories; if not, why not.

(7) What is the purpose of the database and who will be able to access it.

(8) When does the Government aim to have the database operational.

(9) What is the budgeted cost of developing and operating the database and which agencies will bear those costs.

Mr Ruddock (Attorney-General) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) has been tasked by the National Counter-Terrorism Committee (NCTC) to develop the database on nationally significant critical infrastructure.

(2) Critical Infrastructure is defined in the National Counter-Terrorism Plan as `infrastructure which, if destroyed, degraded or rendered unavailable for an extended period, will impact on social or economic well-being or affect national security or defence'.

(3) Australian Government agencies and the States and Territories, in cooperation with the private sector where relevant, have the role of identifying infrastructure that is critical to them and passing that information to ASIO.

(4) A risk framework has been developed and will be further refined in consultation with Australian Government agencies and the States and Territories using the definition at paragraph (2) as a guide.

(5) Australian Government agencies and the States and Territories are currently providing information for inclusion in the database to ASIO.

(6) The NCTC developed a consistent format for use by all Australian Government agencies and the States and Territories.

(a) The information sought in the format included details of business continuity plans, risk analyses, security arrangements and key input/resource dependencies.

(b) The format was communicated to Australian Government agencies and the States and Territories in January 2003.

(7) The purpose of the database is to provide a consolidated listing of those assets which are considered to be critical to Australia's economic well-being, or affect national security. This information will be used to consider whether any action is required to improve the resilience, redundancy or protection of those assets. The NCTC will oversight management of the information and the uses to which the data can be put. ASIO, the manager of the database, will not provide data to others without the approval of the NCTC. Furthermore, the Australian Government does not intend that the data will be used for regulatory purposes.

(8) The database is operational now. Data entry is ongoing.

(9) The cost of the database will be met within ASIO's budget from funds provided as part of the Government's Critical Infrastructure Protection policy initiative of October 2002.