Canberra reviews critical infrastructure security

By Jonathan Nally
Tuesday, 10 October, 2017

Canberra reviews critical infrastructure security

Attorney-General Senator George Brandis has announced that the federal government “is seeking views on new legislation to help manage the complex and evolving national security risks from foreign involvement in Australia’s critical infrastructure”.

“Foreign involvement in Australia’s critical infrastructure is essential to Australia’s economy,” Senator Brandis said in a statement released on 10 October.

“However, with increased foreign involvement — through ownership, offshoring, outsourcing and supply chain arrangements — Australia’s national critical infrastructure is more exposed than ever to sabotage, espionage and coercion.”

The government’s Security of Critical Infrastructure Bill 2017 proposes two new measures to manage those risks.

“Firstly, it will create a ‘last resort power’ which will allow the minister to issue a direction to an owner or operator of a critical infrastructure asset to mitigate significant national security risks,” Senator Brandis said.

“Secondly, a critical assets register will be created, providing the government greater visibility of who owns, controls and has access to critical infrastructure assets. This information will inform the government’s assessments of assets most at risk from espionage, sabotage and coercion.”

In January this year, the government established a Critical Infrastructure Centre to “bring together expertise and capability” from across the government to manage the risks.

In the current issue of Critical Comms magazine, Geoff Spring, senior industry advisor in the Centre for Disaster Management and Public Safety at the University of Melbourne, argues strongly that public safety communications should be added to the list of Australia’s national critical infrastructure.

“Let’s hope that the next announcement about critical infrastructure will be government’s acceptance of the House of Representatives Committee’s recommendations recognising mission-critical public safety communications as critical infrastructure, paving the way for the long-awaited PSMB capability and beyond,” said Spring.

Comments can be made on the proposed legislation, and information obtained on upcoming stakeholder forums, at

Submissions will be accepted until 10 November 2017.

Pictured: Senator George Brandis. Image courtesy Dept of PMC.

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