Critical technology underpins our nation’s most important services and systems, and the structures that Australians increasingly rely upon. We use them every day to conduct our businesses, connect with our families and engage with the world around us.
These critical technologies allow us to make breakthroughs in manufacturing, agriculture and health. They allow us to adapt and respond in emergency and crisis situations, and to keep the community updated and informed. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted our reliance on these technologies and their global supply chains more than ever.
While these technologies present significant opportunities, we must stay ahead of the risks. Disinformation and foreign interference in particular have been enabled and accelerated by new and emerging technologies. Australia will continue to battle these challenges on both traditional and emerging platforms.
The level of threat and opportunity that is unique to critical technology is what makes it a new type of challenge.
Our response to this new class of problem requires a transformative and integrated policy response.
The Coalition Government has shown leadership in this space. We are a ‘first mover’ in making critical technology policy decisions. In 2018, we issued 5G security guidance to Australian carriers. The release of this advice demonstrates our leadership in developing industry guidance on critical technology, supply chain security and setting standards.
Essential to the security of critical technology today are the supply chains that make up this technology. Technology supply chains are at the core of critical technology opportunities and challenges. Supply chain considerations extend beyond the movement of goods across borders and encompass software, services and data that Australians use every day.
Some critical technologies cannot be developed quickly due to the levels of specialist expertise, long-term research and development and significant investment they require. It is our job to ensure that Australians have access to a diverse, secure and resilient global market of critical technologies.
To meet these challenges, the Morrison Government is releasing the Critical Technology Supply Chain Principles. The Principles recognise that security should be a core component of critical technologies, and should be built-in from research and development through to manufacturing, supply and maintenance.
This understanding should be accompanied by a good understanding of who suppliers are, whether they act with integrity and in line with Australian law and human rights responsibilities. We must also ensure Australia’s long-term access to secure cutting edge critical technologies that meet our values and expectations of transparency.
Industry are our innovators, creators and users of these technologies, and play an integral role in shaping their security. This is why the Australian Government worked with industry to co-design the Principles, ensuring they are fit for purpose and meet industry’s needs.
Adhering to these Principles will help businesses of all sizes ensure their decisions about critical technology supply chains align with Australian values. It will support the security of their goods and the security of the customers who use these secure critical technologies.
The Australian Government will lead by example and use the Principles in its own decision making practices. This shows the commitment the Government has to securing the systems and technology that Australians rely on.
The Principles are only one example of Australia’s broader efforts to secure our critical technologies. They will sit alongside the Protecting Critical Infrastructure and Systems of National Significance Reforms. We will continue to lead and drive our global critical technology security agenda. However, this cannot be met alone. We will continue to work with governments, industry and academia to identify, invest in and use secure critical technology to protect Australians, their data and our national interest.