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Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Page: 189

Mr RIPOLL (3:17 PM) —Mr Speaker, my question is to the Attorney-General. Will the Attorney-General outline what measures the government is taking to address cyber based threats to national security?

Mr McCLELLAND (Attorney-General) —I thank the honourable member for his question and his ongoing interest in this area. This morning I had the pleasure to launch Cyber Storm III, which is a major international cybersecurity exercise. It goes without saying that fortunately our geographic isolation over the years has proved to be a tremendous asset in terms of defence against conventional threats. Regrettably that geographic isolation has no relevance at all with respect to dealing with threats in the cyber environment. This point was made in the National Security Statement of the government and the need to maintain a secure and resilient network is vital to our social and economic prosperity, and indeed to the proper functioning of government. In terms of that concept of resilience, just as we are referring to a storm, the goal is to do what we can to prevent the damage from the assault, to respond to the assault, and to bounce back as quickly and as effectively as we can from the assault with the minimum of disruption. Those principles apply equally in respect of the Cyber Storm III exercise.

Members will also recall that, as part of the cybersecurity strategy that we announced in November 2009, we established the Computer Emergency Response Team in the Attorney-General’s Department and also the Cyber Security Operations Centre. Just to give some context to the issue, in the eight months of the existence of the Cyber Security Operations Centre, it has received 1,000 requests for assistance. About a quarter of those requests were deemed of sufficient seriousness to warrant further action.

Cyber Storm III will operate over four days. It will test our preparedness and the relationships between government, business and the international community, because we know that the cyber environment knows no boundaries between agencies, governments and individuals, nor does it have any restrictions by national boundaries. The exercise simulates an assault on critical infrastructure and also on nationally important systems and services. It will evaluate individual capability—that is, the capability of individual organisations—but more significantly combined capability. In that context, could I acknowledge the tremendous work by the United States Department of Homeland Security and also the cooperation that we have received from Canada, Great Britain and New Zealand, who are also participating in this exercise.

I also thank and recognise the significant work of over 50 organisations involved in the communication, finance, transport, utilities and government sectors. This exercise will assist in raising awareness, but it is also a demonstration of the practical work that is occurring at a domestic and international level to make our society, our economy and the delivery of government services that much safer and that much more effective.

Ms Gillard —Under the new arrangements, we have got through 20 questions by 3.22. Good work.

Mr Albanese —Twenty-one actually.

Ms Gillard —Really? Twenty-one. Good work, member for Lyne. Many members would be very grateful to you. With that, Mr Speaker, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.