Topics: Protecting Australia’s critical infrastructure; Morrison Government’s strong support for Australian police; new police taskforce to crack down on organised crime.
KAREN ANDREWS: Good morning. Today, the Government has very significant legislation before the Senate. The Critical Infrastructure Bill – which is Home Affairs legislation – is to be debated before the Senate today. It is a significant bill that deals with potential cyberattacks on critical infrastructure here in Australia, it is important legislation that needs to be passed. It was introduced into the House during the last sitting period and today will be debated in the Senate. So it is our role as Parliamentarians to make sure that we turn up at Parliament House and we deal with the legislation. So today is a very significant time in terms of national security, and I would ask all Senators to look at the legislation that is before them today; look at the need for that legislation; it is critical and significant to Australia’s national security. The Morrison Government has always been very clear that a key role is to make sure that we keep all Australians safe and secure. The Critical Infrastructure legislation before the Senate will actually assist us to do that. Critical infrastructure is significant to us all; it is our water utilities; it is our energy services; it is food and groceries. We need powers for the Australian Signals Directorate so that if there is a significant cyberattack, they are able to step in and assist industry to resolve those issues. So it is important legislation and I do call on the Senate to look seriously at that legislation and pass it to them.
QUESTION: What’s the message to the two Liberal Senators threatening to withhold their vote on all government legislation, including this?
KAREN ANDREWS: Members of Parliament – so MPs and Senators – are all elected to represent their various constituencies. I would encourage all Members and Senators to do the jobs that they are paid for and that is to look at the legislation and to make sure that they vote in accordance with the legislation they have in front of them.
QUESTION: It’s going to be a pretty unproductive final sitting fortnight, if no legislation is going to get through?
KAREN ANDREWS: It won’t be unproductive – there is a lot of legislation to be passed. The Morrison Government will continue to do its job; which is to put legislation to the House; put legislation to the Senate; and work to get that passed. We will continue to work with the opposition with cross-benchers as required to make sure that very important legislation is passed.
QUESTION: Minister, are we going to see the Integrity Commission legislation this fortnight?
KAREN ANDREWS: That sits with Attorney General Michaelia Cash. I know that she is working on that as she is working on other legislation. So the timing of that will be with Michaelia Cash.
QUESTION: What if it doesn’t actually get introduced this Parliamentary sitting fortnight, considering how long this has been on the Government’s agenda?
KAREN ANDREWS: There’s a lot of legislation that is going to be before the House and debated before the Senate over these two sitting periods. I’m very focused on making sure that the national security legislation that I have is passed. That will be my priority.
QUESTION: Have you seen the Religious Freedom Bill?
KAREN ANDREWS: I’ve been part of discussions in relation to a number of bills – that’s my job as a Cabinet Minister; to have a look at all of the legislation and to be briefed on that as well. So there’s a range of matters that I’m aware of, but I focus on the areas where I have responsibility and that is national security legislation.
QUESTION: Have you read it? Do you have any thoughts on it?
KAREN ANDREWS: As I’ve indicated before, the Attorney has responsibility for that bill in particular, and I have every confidence in Michaelia Cash; she is an excellent attorney. Thanks so much.