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Tuesday, 1 March 2016
Page: 2604


Mrs PRENTICE (RyanAssistant Minister for Disability Services) (12:31): The Prime Minister is right when he says that there has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian, and as the member of parliament with one of the world's leading universities, the University of Queensland—which is in the top 10 in the world for commercialisation—in my electorate, I can say with great confidence and enthusiasm that there has never been a more exciting time to be the member for Ryan.

Australia is leading the world in this information age and, through the coalition government's unprecedented investment in science and innovation, the opportunities for Australians have never been greater. The coalition government's overarching policy on science and innovation is the National Innovation and Science Agenda. Released in December last year, the national agenda is geared towards exploiting Australia's natural strengths in science, innovation and technology, to secure Australia's future prosperity and high standard of living.

The Turnbull government's National Innovation and Science Agenda will create a modern, dynamic 21st century Australian economy, and will transition the Australian economy from a winding-down mining boom to a burgeoning ideas boom. The coalition government, through the National Innovation and Science Agenda, has committed $1.1 billion in funding to incentivise innovation and entrepreneurialism, reward risk-taking and promote science, maths and technology. This agenda involves a number of key measures delivered through the Department of Education and Training, including $1.5 billion over the next 10 years for the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy, NCRIS, to provide long-term funding certainty, as part of a broader package of $2.3 billion in new funding for research infrastructure; $885 million for a new research support program to provide flexible funding to our universities; $948 million for a new research training program to support our next generation of researchers; $64 million to encourage Australian students to study STEM subjects at school; the opening up of the Linkage Projects scheme from July this year to accept applications year-round from researchers and industry; and the introduction of the first-ever National Impact and Engagement Assessment, to assess the benefits of university research and encourage collaboration between universities and industry.

The National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy, NCRIS, is making possible some truly groundbreaking scientific research in universities and research facilities around Australia. One of the projects being funded is the Australian National Imaging Facility, a $130 million project which is providing state-of-the-art imaging capabilities for use by the Australian research community. The National Imaging Facility, which is being led by the University of Queensland, provides researchers with 12 new flagship instruments across 10 nodes based at five institutions. One of the flagship instruments funded by the NCRIS is a multimillion dollar 7 Tesla whole-body MRI scanner, located within the Centre for Advanced Imaging at the University of Queensland in my electorate. The Centre for Advanced Imaging, through the use of this 7 Tesla MRI scanner, is performing the most advanced cardiac imaging in the Southern Hemisphere. The MRI scanner provides still and moving images of the human heart which are used by researchers in the investigation of techniques relating to the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease.

In addition to our commitment of $1.5 billion to secure the future funding needs of the NCRIS the government has also committed $814 million in funding for two large-scale, internationally significant research projects: the Australian Synchrotron and the Square Kilometre Array. The Australian Synchrotron, which will receive $520 million in government funding over the next 10 years, is a world-class research facility that uses accelerator technology to produce a source of light one million times more powerful than the sun. It is the single largest piece of scientific infrastructure in the Southern Hemisphere, and has applications in a wide range of fields.

Some of the research projects in which the Synchrotron is currently involved include protein analysis to assist in the development of cancer drugs, an examination of the efficacy and safety of chromium supplements in dieting, and the development of an imaging process that reveals how cerebral malaria causes brain damage. The Square Kilometre Array, which will receive $294 million in funding from the government over the next 10 years, is a next-generation radio telescope project involving collaboration from more than 20 different countries around the world—and I acknowledge the great work done by Professor Peter Quinn. The Square Kilometre Array will be the largest and most sophisticated radio telescope on earth. These research projects are truly awe-inspiring and, while most of us struggle to understand the complexities of these large-scale, internationally significant research projects, we should not lose sight of the fact that we are all players in this information age. Science and technology touch us in our everyday lives whether we realise it or not.

We are constantly adapting and evolving in the ways in which we live and work. Many of the members in this place, including myself, come from a business background. Some of us come from small owner-operated businesses, others from large multinational corporations. With almost 50 years between the youngest and oldest members of parliament, the collective experience of members spans, literally, decades. Some of us remember a time when, in business as in life, the internet was unheard of but, for most of us, our experience is one of pervasive interconnectivity between business and consumers. This interconnectivity has brought with it unprecedented gains in productivity, and it has changed the way we live and work and transformed the way we consume goods and services. One example of the way in which the internet has revolutionised the relationship between business and the consumer is eBay, which celebrated its 20th birthday last year.

But with increasing connectivity comes increasing risk. As businesses and consumers become more connected online, the pace at which commercial and personal information is generated, stored and utilised by business continues to grow exponentially. Just as the internet has made information a valuable commodity in and of itself, so too has it created the means by which a business's competitors and detractors can do serious and lasting damage by accessing, withholding and/or disseminating its sensitive information. Data breaches can cause catastrophic financial and reputational damage for a business and can potentially bring physical harm to individuals. Recent examples in Australia include the Department of Education and Training in Queensland, Aussie Farmers Direct, Kmart, David Jones, and the Maroochy Shire Council, as it was then known.

In this digital age, data breaches are soaring. Many businesses are oblivious to the risk and, when a breach does occur, they do not know where to turn. This is where AusCERT comes in. AusCERT, based at the University of Queensland in my electorate of Ryan, is an operational Cyber Emergency Response Team—the first CERT in Australia. It has been helping public and private organisations to prevent, detect and respond to cyber attacks, since 1993. AusCERT is self-funded, not-for-profit and independent of government. AusCERT's membership includes 177 schools, 46 universities and 12 TAFEs. Member organisations range in size from between one and 200 network users to more than 20,000 network users.

As part of its overall service, AusCERT provides members with security bulletins, an SMS early warning service, incident management services, a 24/7 members hotline, a malicious-URL feed, a remote monitoring service and a phishing take-down service. It also provides, on a fee-for-service basis, a virtual information security officer, and flying squads for organisations affected by cyber attacks.

As Australia's first-ever CERT, AusCERT was, until 2010, Australia's national CERT; however, this arrangement was changed by the former Labor government through the creation of the government-owned and operated CERT Australia, which assumed responsibility for the cybersecurity of Commonwealth government departments and agencies. Despite this, AusCERT continues to provide an invaluable service for the business community as well as state and territory government departments and education institutions, none of whom receive assistance from CERT Australia. With the ever-increasing threat of cyber attacks on non-government organisations, and with the heightened risk that comes with government-mandated collection of metadata, AusCERT remains, in my mind, an integral part of Australia's cybersecurity landscape.

It does concern me that CERT Australia refuses to partner with AusCERT as a fall-back service provider for non-government organisations. More alarming, AusCERT does not appear to play a role in the government's draft Cyber Security Review report. Given the emphasis on economic growth and innovation in the review's preamble, I find it extraordinary that the organisation responsible for servicing the non-government sector has not been invited to participate. We need to recognise the role that AusCERT plays in keeping Australia cyber-safe, and I believe CERT Australia should enter into a formal partnership with AusCERT and invite them to participate in the government's draft Cyber Security Review report.

Australians have been great beneficiaries of the industrial and technological advances of the last 250 years. After three industrial revolutions, and now in the midst of the information age, it is an undeniable fact that the poorest Australian today enjoys a better standard of living than the richest Australian did two-and-a-quarter centuries ago. And while there is still much to be done in terms of closing the gap in Australia, we should not lose sight of the fact that many of our regional neighbours also require a helping hand. As good neighbours, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that the benefits of education, modern medicine and technological advancements are shared.

Members in this place will know that I place great emphasis on the importance of our relationship with our regional neighbours. I take this opportunity now to highlight some alarming statistics. In Papua New Guinea, five women die from childbirth every day—the highest maternal mortality rate in the world. In Papua New Guinea, there is one doctor for every 17,068 people—in Australia it is one for every 302. In Papua New Guinea, there are just 51 doctors for a country with 700 villages, 800 languages and 85 per cent of the population living outside the capital city of Port Moresby. In Papua New Guinea, the per capita health spend is $67.00—in Fiji it is $453; in Australia it is $6,600; and in Vanuatu it is just $159. It goes without saying that modern medicine is of little benefit to a country that cannot afford to administer it and, through Cyclone Winston in Fiji and Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu, we see how natural disasters stretch the capacity of these countries' already underresourced public health systems and highlight the necessity of Australia's aid program in the Pacific.

There is no doubt that Australia is a generous provider of foreign aid. In this financial year, alone, the Australian government will provide an estimated $4.052 billion in official development assistance, making Australia the 13th most significant donor in the OECD. The Australian government has introduced a $50 million Gender Equality Fund, to strengthen gender equality and encourage the economic empowerment of women in our region, and maintains a $120 million Emergency Fund to assist in humanitarian and disaster relief efforts globally. The Australian government reacted swiftly and generously in its humanitarian response to Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu, last year, and we have done the same in response to Cyclone Winston in Fiji.

In the area of accountability and transparency the government has introduced a new performance framework, Making Performance Count: enhancing the accountability and effectiveness of Australian aid, to improve the accountability of aid spending and, in improving the transparency of our aid program, we have published and made available 25 Aid Investment Plans and an interactive map showing the distribution of Australian aid.

Australia has much to be proud of in the area of foreign aid and of the initiatives and priorities of our foreign minister, the Hon. Julie Bishop. But there is always more that can be done and, in that regard, I encourage the government to give priority to our foreign aid obligations in formulating the 2016-17 budget. I commend the bills to the House.