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Monday, 22 October 2018
Page: 10577

Mr SNOWDON (Lingiari) (15:00): Can I thank the member for Canberra for her contribution and say how important it is that we acknowledge the work she's been doing and continues to do in the cybersecurity domain. It's an area about which she has a great depth of knowledge. She's provided us with advice here this afternoon on the need to think about how we concern ourselves with and how we define critical infrastructure. I think that we need to comprehend her advice. The member for Canberra pointed to the election processes and the interferences that have been noted elsewhere, internationally. We shouldn't discount the possibility that that sort of interference could happen here, effectively eroding, potentially, the confidence of our community in our democratic processes. Therefore it is really important that we acknowledge the potential for these sorts of cyberterrorist attacks, as they are.

We need to understand that, whilst the Defence Amendment (Call Out of the Australian Defence Force) Bill 2018 deals with role of the ADF, the ADF does have capacity in this space. Indeed, the leaders in cyber-research and knowledge have historically rested in the defence community. We need to acknowledge that and understand that they have the skills, capacity, background and intellectual horsepower to be able to provide the nation with advice on these and related issues. I want to thank the member for Canberra for her contribution and for making sure that we understand that the sorts of issues which she talked about to us are issues about which we should all be thinking.

We know already that, in the cybersecurity space, the commercial world has started to recognise—belatedly, really—the importance of cyberdefence of their own systems. The government plays a very important catalytic role in making sure that they get the right advice around those issues, emanating from the central agencies here in Canberra. But we need to acknowledge, as they do now, how important cyberinterference could be in terms of our economy, and we need to comprehend what that means. Think of the power systems in this country. Think of the water systems in this country. All of them could potentially be hacked by some cyberfreak. We need to know that that sort of terrorist activity could come from an international source, or could even, indeed, be local. So having our cybersecurity framework properly set in place and understanding its role in preventing cyberterrorism are extremely important.

I know that the intelligence community is fully aware of this. I know that we can have confidence in the capacity of our cybersecurity networks, but we need to make sure that we're aware of the potential for things to happen, and I don't think everyone is really aware of it. So I want to thank again the member for Canberra for her very important contribution. Thank you.

In the second reading speech for this piece of legislation which is before us, the Defence Amendment (Call Out of the Australian Defence Force) Bill 2018, the minister made, I think, some very relevant and pertinent observations. As he said and we on this side of the House accept—we're supporting the legislation—'police and other emergency services are, and will remain, our first responders' to terrible local events. We have, as the minister pointed out in his second reading speech, 'a broad continuum of operational response to terrorist attacks spanning from general duties police to the specialist members of the ADF'. As he further pointed out, the actions of these first responders 'can have the greatest impact' in terms of saving lives and neutralising any threat in these instances. We acknowledge, as the minister said in his speech:

Each state and territory police force has specially trained personnel who have expert capabilities to respond to terrorist attacks, but they sometimes need additional support—

and it's that support that the ADF, with its expertise, can properly provide. We know, as the minister said in his second reading speech, that the ADF's primary responsibility in terms of counterterrorism is offshore, but the ADF, as many will know, has the personnel, the resources, the capacity and very much specialist sets of skills that can assist our emergency services to respond in the event of a terrorist attack.

I think it's very important that we in this parliament, let alone the general community, acknowledge the depth of training in particular parts of the ADF; their knowledge, as I have outlined; their expertise and their professionalism, which, internationally, is really above par. There may be one or two defence forces in the world that have such highly trained technicians as we have in this country, but I doubt it. We can be very pleased and proud of the capacity which has been developed by our Defence Force and Defence Force systems, including those civilians who work in the defence space and provide technical and other advice and expertise. We can have a great deal of confidence in their capacity.

As I alluded to earlier, as a minister previously I had responsibility for Defence Science and Technology Organisation. Let there be no doubt about the capacity and knowledge of those people, their expertise and their capacity to research and provide solutions to the types of really difficult problems for which we need to have confidence that they can. Most of what they do is unknown to many and will remain unknown. But I can say from my own observations, experience and knowledge that what they do is very, very important. They have the scientific engineering and other skills that are required to develop responses on our behalf, and they do. So I think it is very important that we acknowledge that capacity and capability

But, more broadly, we need to see that our defence forces have specialist capabilities such as tactical assault forces; chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear response and recovery. These skill sets have been developed by informed work over many years by our defence forces, working in collaboration in many instances with partners in universities and indeed, in some cases, in the private sector. But the IP, the intellectual grunt, has largely been driven out of the Department of Defence and its organisations, and we need to be aware of that. They're well beyond the sorts of skill sets that you would expect to find in the police force in any jurisdiction in this country. So, understanding that, it's no surprise that we should be contemplating this legislation to ensure that Defence is able, when required, to contribute effectively to domestic counterterrorism efforts. It is in that context that we feel very confident in supporting this legislation.

I will just go to the explanatory memorandum of the bill to explain very briefly its purpose. The explanatory memorandum says:

2. The amendments contained in the Bill will implement the recommendations from the Review of Defence Support to National Counter-Terrorism Arrangements , and complement efforts to enhance the Australian Defence Force's (ADF) posture and capability to respond to incidents of domestic violence and terrorism. The amendments will also implement measures to enhance the ability of the ADF to support state and territory law enforcement agencies in responding to domestic violence.

3. In broad terms, the purpose of the amendments is to streamline the legal procedures for call out of the ADF and to enhance the ability of the ADF to protect states, self-governing territories, and Commonwealth interests, onshore and offshore, against domestic violence, including terrorism.

The Department of Defence has already implemented a number of very important initiatives to provide greater practical support for state and territory law enforcement agencies, including but not limited to an enhanced counterterrorism liaison network, an enhanced program of asbestos training activities and streamlined police access to defence facilities such as ranges.

This piece of legislation will amend the Defence Act to: make it easier for states and territories to request ADF support; simplify, expand and clarify the ADF's powers; enhance the ADF's ability to respond to incidents occurring in more than one jurisdiction or across jurisdictions; and allow for pre-authorisation for the ADF to respond to threats on land, on sea and in the air, typically used as part of measures during major events such as the G20 meeting or the Commonwealth Games.

It's important that we acknowledge, though, that, even despite what I said earlier, the first responders will remain territory and state police forces. That is really very important. They will be the first responders to any terrorist incidents. The call-out of the ADF will only be able to be considered following a request by a state or territory. I think that needs to be understood. The context of this legislation is very much a secondary role to the primary responders, who are the state jurisdictions.

The four principles which underpin the proposed changes to call-out provisions are these: the ADF should only be called out to assist civilian authorities if, when the ADF is called out, civilian authorities remain paramount; the ADF members remain under military command; when called out, ADF members can only use force that is reasonable and necessary in all the circumstances; and importantly—and this needs to be comprehended—ADF personnel remain subject to the law and are accountable for their actions. So that's the framework, and it's very important that we appreciate that framework. First responders are the state and territory police, and the ADF personnel will be required to remain subject to the law and accountable for their actions. That is something which I know many people will take a great sense of security from.

I don't intend to go through each of the four headings, but there will be an increase in the requirement for the ADF to consult with state and territory police when it's operating in their jurisdictions. It's very important that that communication framework exists and is open. An additional matter in this legislation will be adding the Minister for Home Affairs as a named alternative authorising minister for the expedited call-out.

This is a very important piece of legislation for this country. It gives us a contemporary set of arrangements designed to meet contemporary circumstances—those of today and into the future—and I'm very pleased to be able to support the legislation.