Opening remarks - Cyber Security Roundtable

27 Feb 2023
Prime Minister
Cyber Security Roundtable

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Welcome everyone. I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet and pay my respects to elders past, present, and emerging.

And thank you so much for being a part of this Cyber Security Roundtable, and for bringing your insights and your expertise to this process, further developing a new National Cyber Security Strategy.

Cyber security is national security, it is business security, but it is also personal security for 25 million Australians. And that's why Minister O'Neil, the first Cabinet Minister to hold the Cyber Security portfolio, and I have brought together representatives from our intelligence agencies, our public service, but also independent experts, coming together with business, industry and civil society. I thank all of you for giving up your time and bringing your expertise to this forum.

Strengthening Australia's cyber security is a fundamental priority for our Government. We recognise it’s an essential part of life, of the way that every Australian and every business and every community organisation deals with each other on a day-to-day basis. It’s absolutely critical as well for maintaining trust in our public institutions, and our public service. It's critical to maintain confidence in your commercial dealings, and also in your intellectual property, which is often the foundation of your wealth creation.

It's also vital to individuals. Individuals quite rightly feel violated when their details are online. It is no different from someone breaking into your house and stealing something from you, because it is your property, and in some cases it's your identity as well. And we saw with breaches last year, I think, an increased awareness of just how important this is.

So all of us understand how critical this is, which is why we’ve brought together such a high level group today. We, of course are conscious as a Government as well about state-sponsored attacks, which are increasingly prevalent, from stealing classified information, to cyber criminal acts aimed at seeking to secure some profit, or in some cases, ransomware attacks, which are increasingly prevalent as well.

So, clearly as it stands, government policies and regulations, business sector systems and measures and our general awareness and capacity as a nation are simply not at the level that we need them to be. I think part of today is about raising awareness, but also, of course, about finding ways in which we can all go forward together.

This is really fast moving. It’s a rapidly evolving threat, and for too many years Australia has been off the pace. Our Government is determined to change that. We want to use your expertise and your experience to build a National Cyber Security Strategy that is practical, that's useful and that’s adaptable. For every level of Government, for every branch of the public service, for every agency and institution, for business, large and small, and for people.

Educating our children as well, one of the things that is said around every soccer or netball or cricket field, from parents, is worrying about cyber issues, and worrying about the impact that it can have on our youngest Australians as well.

Also, small business worry about how such an intervention can have an impact on them. Sole traders who reinvented their business model in the course of the pandemic, to keep their heads above water, can be targeted on this as well. And we can't expect time poor businesses to do it by themselves.

And that's the idea of bringing this group together, to facilitate action and leadership across our economy, across our society, to make sure we address what is a very real challenge indeed.

For businesses these days, cyber security is as important as having a lock on the door. You wouldn't leave your business at the end of the day and just leave the door open, and that essentially is what will occur unless there’s more diligence, and unless we upgrade the level of security which is there.

So we want all Australian businesses to be able to protect themselves, but also to protect their customers. And I don't underestimate the challenge that we’re facing. This is an ever evolving threat and it will need adaptation from us and from business and government, to make sure that we keep on top of this.

That's why today, as well, as part of this process, we are announcing a Coordinator for Cyber Security. We want that coordination to be done centrally so that it's most effective. That's why that will be located in the Department of Home Affairs under the responsibility of Minister O'Neil, so that there’s a clear pathway forward, and I believe that is a critical contribution that we can make.

So I thank all of you for joining us. I look forward to constructive discussion from this, I know that this is a conversation that's happening around the water coolers, as they say, but happening right around our society, and I thank all of you for giving up your time here today. Thank you.