Topics: Cyber security, Toowoomba quarantine facility
GARTH HAMILTON: Thanks very much for coming out here to Pulse Data Centre today and I brought you out here on a couple of occasions – it is an exciting place. We had Mr. Angus Taylor out here previously, having a look around facilities, and very happy to have a good friend of Toowoomba in Minister Karen Andrews, coming out once again to see this great facility. Today, we’re focusing on cyber security, what this facility can play a part in the future of farming in this region. It’s going to be data driven. This is a whole new industry that will have cybersecurity issues that haven’t previously been raised for them, and certainly the amount of small businesses in Toowoomba that have this is an issue will be looking for leadership on this. It’s fantastic for Karen to come here and talk to us about that today.
Karen, welcome to Toowoomba and thank you very much.
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, thank you very much, Garth, and it’s an absolute pleasure to be back here in Toowoomba. And it’s great to be here at the AATLIS Innovation Precinct and particularly at the Pulse Data Centre within that precinct.
The Federal Government announced late last year $1.67 billion cyber security strategy. My role as the Home Affairs Minister is to make sure that we roll that strategy out as soon as we possibly can. So in the coming weeks and months, my focus will be to deliver that strategy across three levels. Firstly, the role of Government and what we need to do federally to make sure that we are protecting our assets and making sure that we have in place the right cyber security measures.
The second role is to work with industry. And quite frankly, that is a two-way street. Industry has, for a long time, been very good at protecting their physical security. What we need them to do now is look at their cyber security so that they are protecting their data, and they need to be doing that from a couple of different perspectives. They need to make sure that they’re protecting the information that they’re receiving from their suppliers. But importantly, they need to be protecting the data of their customers. So over the coming weeks and months, as we roll out the strategy, there will be a very strong focus on industry and cyber security.
And, of course, there’s issues with the community and cyber security. So for mums and dads, we need to make sure that they are well equipped to deal with online scams, online issues, and protecting their identity. The last thing that we want to see happen is for people to lose their identity and for that to be sold on the dark web. So, we will be working across those three levels federally.
Now in relation to data, the Prime Minister has made it very clear that by 2030, Australia will be a leading digital economy. So the work that the Federal Government is doing across a number of portfolios will certainly equip us to deliver on that goal, that objective. We do know that data is increasing and that businesses, individuals, and of course, government are amassing large amounts of data. It is very important that data is well managed. I’m very conscious of the fact that most of the data is centralised in the ACT, in the Canberra region. What I am very interested in talking about today here in Toowoomba is the role that regional centres can play in making sure that there is backup, because if we’re looking at critical infrastructure, we need to make sure that what we’re doing with data protects us, and that is government, industry, and businesses.
So I’m delighted to be here at the centre here today and I will ask the General Manager, John Henderson, to say a few words.
JOHN HENDERSON: Thank you, Minister. I think it’s really important to talk about cyber security. As we know, cyber security is no longer just an issue for the ICT community. Every person has a digital presence these days. So being online means there’s a real threat to your cyber identity. So these sorts of programs, and I think where the industry component that the Minister sort of mentioned, really, really excited to be able to work with the Government to bring the level of capabilities for the regions and from every person from a small business through to the enterprise up to a higher level. And facilities like this are key for that strategy. You know, we are the home- and everyone talks about the cloud. The cloud actually lives in the data centres like Pulse. We just happen to be located in Toowoomba. So a facility like this is key to bringing that sort of skills level above to what we need to really address cybersecurity for everyone in Australia.
GARTH HAMILTON: Excellent. Do you have any questions?
JOURNALIST: Yeah. Well, we might just grab John if that’s okay. How does it feel to be, I guess, as a regional company, to be part of this?
JOHN HENDERSON: It’s fantastic. A lot of the times there is a huge focus in the capital cities and the regions get left behind. We’re fortunate that there has been investment, private investment, into our region to have a facility like this. This is the first regional Tier III Uptime certified facility in Australia. So, to be able to then be able to be a partner at this level is fantastic.
JOURNALIST: And I guess, to the everyday sort of person watching tonight, what exactly do you guys do day to day to ensure cyber safety?
JOHN HENDERSON: So we cover a lot in the data centre side, both from the physical as well as the virtual. So inside the data centre, we have a huge amount of physical security that you’ve seen today, and you’ll see as we sort of go through to our tour later to actually ensure that no one can get inside the facility. And then from a cyber-perspective, we actually work with a huge amount of partners to really address that as well.
JOURNALIST: And I guess, you know, does this really show what kind of role that regions can play in this?
JOHN HENDERSON: Absolutely. Just because we’re a regional area, doesn’t mean the capabilities and the facilities isn’t world class. Pulse is a world class facility, just happens to be in Toowoomba, which is fantastic for us.
JOURNALIST: Minister Andrews, I have a question for you as well. I guess given the current climate that we’re kind of in, are cyber-attacks a threat that is very real to Australia and to small Australian businesses as well?
KAREN ANDREWS: Absolutely. So the threat of a cyber-attack is increasing. And there have been a number of those, not only within Australia, but right across the world. So it’s very important that we are doing all that we can to protect ourselves from such an attack. And if I could just pick up the question earlier about largely why Toowoomba. Toowoomba is attractive simply because it is a regional centre. So we will be very keen to find out more about what can be offered by this city to support the infrastructure that’s needed, particularly with cyber.
JOURNALIST: Minister, just on quarantine. The Wellcamp facility is just down the road, are you going to have a look at that while you’re here?
KAREN ANDREWS: No, I won’t be. Garth Hamilton, as the Federal Member for Groom, has been very active. He is a very strong representative of his community here, and I’m happy to ask Garth to make a few comments in relation to that facility.
JOURNALIST: Minister, while we’re still here. Seeing you’re one of the share-holding Ministers responsible for international flights, are you considering a proposal alongside the Prime Minister?
KAREN ANDREWS: At this point in time, there is no proposal that has been put through by Premier Palaszczuk. So it’s all well and good, quite frankly, for the Premier to make some wide sweeping statements. But it’s not been backed up with any substance at this point in time.
JOURNALIST: The Prime Minister keeps saying he needs details. What details do you want to see?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, I’ve actually seen the proposal that has come in from Victoria, and it is actually a very detailed proposal. What I would expect if the Queensland State Government is serious is that they would be looking at the key criteria that needs to be addressed in any quarantine centre, and that is clearly access to facilities, access to a range of resources, including medical support. Clearly, an airport that has the capacity to deal with those issues. But let’s be clear, hotel quarantine has been particularly effective. So I think it’s interesting, at least on one level that the Premier is so keen to look at another facility broadly, not in detail, when hotel quarantine has largely across Australia met the needs of incoming passengers.
JOURNALIST: One of the concerns about more Rockhampton is its ability to handle international flights, but it does handle international flights. Is that a factor for you?
KAREN ANDREWS: Look, obviously, you need an airport if you’re going to have to have aircraft coming in. So, yes, clearly that is a positive, but it’s more than just having an airport that is going to be suitable for a quarantine facility. So as I’ve said, and as the Prime Minister has said, we also need to make sure that there is the proper medical support for people who are coming into this country.
JOURNALIST: What’s your message to the Premier?
KAREN ANDREWS: Show us the detail.
JOURNALIST: And Minister, just on the AstraZeneca vaccine, why do you think some Australians over 50 are a bit hesitant to get the vaccine at the moment?
KAREN ANDREWS: I think there’s a couple of reasons that people are cautious. And one very clearly is that if you look at what’s happening in Australia now, we have been very well protected from the pandemic that has raged right across the world. And if you compare the situation in Australia with India, it’s very different. So sadly, there’s a level of complacency, I think, in the community that they’re not necessarily going to be affected, so there’s no need to rush and get the vaccine. And what I would say to the Australian people is that if we want to reopen our economy, if we want to reopen our borders, we need to have as many people vaccinated as we possibly can. So I would encourage Australians to get vaccinated and make sure that they are protecting, not only themselves, but their family, their friends and the rest of Australia.
JOURNALIST: Have you had your vaccine yet?
KAREN ANDREWS: I’ve had the first injection.
JOURNALIST: AstraZeneca or Pfizer?
KAREN ANDREWS: I had Pfizer.
JOURNALIST: And how did you fine that experience?
KAREN ANDREWS: It was all good.
JOURNALIST: Garth, can I just ask you some questions about the quarantine proposal?
GARTH HAMILTON: Yeah, certainly.
JOURNALIST: Do you believe the Premier is serious about this proposal, given that she’s not, according to the Prime Minister, not giving these details?
GARTH HAMILTON: I don’t think anyone in Toowoomba is fooled by the Premier’s tantrum over the last couple of days. We’ve been asking for these details for four months. They’re not there. We know they’re not there. This issue was put to bed by the CMO weeks ago. I don’t see any future for this proposal. I think it’s time for the Premier to move on.