Remarks at the Cyber Security Roundtable

31 May 2017
Parliament House, Canberra
Prime Minister
Defence and National Security


Dan Tehan and I and Paul Talon and Alastair MacGibbon are delighted to be joined by you all today. Thank you very much for coming.

You are the leaders of some of, most of our biggest telco’s and some of our biggest web-based platforms; Amazon, Facebook, we’ve got a huge representation here in the telco sector.

Now we are going to have a talk about the new frontier of threats to Australia’s security.

Cyberspace is the new frontier of espionage. It is the new frontier of warfare. It’s a new frontier of threats to Australian governments, to families and businesses.

It’s also a vector for the foreign states to interfere in democracies. We’ve seen that with the Russian interference in the American elections and of course, only on Monday the newly elected French President Macron said, “During the campaign Russia today and Sputnik were agents of influence, which on several occasions spread fake news about me personally and my campaign”.

So we have the prospect of the openness of the internet, the openness of the cyberspace, being exploited. Not just by people that hack into our databases, who want to use ransomware like WannaCry, which is obviously been the most recent global example, but who also want to use that means of access, use platforms. Facebook for example, to spread fake news, to be able to disseminate a distorted view of the world and interfere with our democracy.

So we need to work more closely together.

We have great agencies, as you know. We do work, we have always worked closely but we need to be more cohesive. What we’re looking for today is an open discussion as to how all of us – telco’s, the big over the top providers, the big web-based platforms; Amazon, Facebook, infrastructure providers like NBN - can work together to ensure that we can better protect Australians, their businesses, their families, keep them safe and online.

Of course, it's opened up extraordinary opportunities, the internet. It is the most remarkable piece of infrastructure ever designed. If you look at something as ubiquitous as the smart phone is only ten years old, is extraordinary in itself. But it does pose new challenges. It gives those who seek to do us harm greater access, access that they hadn’t had before.

So, thank you for coming and I look forward to having a very frank discussion with Dan and of course supported by Paul from the Signals Directorate and my Cyber Security Adviser, Alastair MacGibbon.