Doorstop interview, Sydney

  • Transcript, E&OE

JULIE BISHOP: I was pleased to put out this morning Australia's first International Cyber Engagement Strategy. The internet, technological advances, cyberspace, have permeated every aspect of our lives. There have been undoubted benefits but there are also risks associated with cyber space and we must mitigate those risks for our national interest, for national security, in order to protect our businesses. It's necessary for us to work in partnership with other countries and therefore this International Cyber Engagement Strategy will set out the way Australia can interact with likeminded nations. We understand that the internet and cyberspace, while open, free, productive, must also be secure and therefore we need a governing set of rules to ensure that nations and non-state actors operate in accordance with an agreed set of rules just as we have the traditional environments. So I'm pleased that Australia has taken this very bold step of leading the way in setting out how we intend to engage in cyber space.

I was just going to give you an update on the atrocious incident in Las Vegas. I can confirm that the local authorities have identified all but three of the victims of this mass shooting. To date none of them have been identified as Australian citizens. The process of contacting those who have been admitted to hospital continues but I am informed by our Consul-General in the United States that while a number of Australians were present at the siege no Australians had been directly affected as either the victims or amongst the injured. We continue to offer our deepest sympathies to the families of victims, those that have been injured and to the people of the United States who are suffering through the deadliest shooting in US history.

Closer to home, in our region Australia has been giving support to Vanuatu, who are suffering from another natural disaster, a potential volcano. A navy ship HMAS Choules will arrive later with humanitarian supplies. We have sent a C-17 plane that has on board humanitarian supplies, food, shelter, clean water for the people who have been displaced and we of course have provided this humanitarian support. The Australian Government will continue to work with the Government of Vanuatu to ensure that people are being evacuated safely. Any questions?

JOURNALIST: Foreign Minister, do Australians just have to get used to the fact that there is copious and ever increasing amounts of data that will be kept on them?

JULIE BISHOP: We collect data for the purposes of ensuring security. It's necessary in this globalised cyber world for data to be collected but it is how it is used and that's why we've set out a new strategy, how Australia uses and authorises the use of, for example, our offensive cyber capabilities. In the world in which we live, data will be generated at a scale and pace that we've not seen before so that's why Australia is very keen to ensure nations and non-state actors operate according to a set of international rules and norms of acceptable and responsible behaviour.

JOURNALIST: Would Australia ever share biometric data outside the Five Eye partnership?

JULIE BISHOP: These are hypothetical questions. We have a very close relationship with our Five Eyes partners, a trusted, longstanding relationship. We share the same values, the same outlooks, we have the same approach to the laws that should govern cyber and the internet. There have been circumstances where we have sought partnerships with other countries for the protection of Australia and Australians and we have shared intelligence and information but only in circumstances where we are securing the lives of Australians and securing our national interest.

JOURNALIST: You mentioned in your speech that the 2016 US election and that it shouldn't be allowed for other governments and other people to interfere with elections, will any laws or any measures be introduced to make sure that that doesn't happen in Australia?

JULIE BISHOP: The Australian Government is currently reviewing the situation. We have been updating our laws, as activities in cyber space evolve, just as we're doing in relation to the evolving terrorist threat and addressing it through legislative reforms that give greater powers, greater resources, greater capacity to curb this kind of illegal, violent behaviour so we can ensure Australia is safeguarded from this kind of activity that would seek to undermine democratic processes and our institutions. There is no greater responsibility of the Australian Government than protection and security of Australian people and our democratic institutions.

JOURNALIST: Will safety always trump privacy?

JULIE BISHOP: There is a balance. It is not "either/or", one must strike a balance in the circumstances but of course the security and safety of the Australian people is a priority for the government but one can balance these matters and that's what we seek to do.

JOURNALIST: It's not a priority – our privacy?

JULIE BISHOP: It's not an "either/or", it's a balance. You can balance these matters depending on the circumstances with how it evolves but if you were to ask the Australian people if they'd want the government to keep them secure, I think they would give that as a positive yes they want to be kept safe. They want to be kept secure but they would also have regard to issues of privacy, confidentiality. This is an ever-evolving space and that's why we are so keen to be a leading player putting in place the rules of the road of cyberspace to ensure that all actors in cyberspace - those who use the internet - do so in accordance with an agreed set of international rules and laws of behaviour.

JOURNALIST: In terms of their security and sharing of privacy, there are reports out today that drivers licence details from around the country and being collated into one federal file. Is that something you think is well advanced and will now happen?

JULIE BISHOP: I understand the Prime Minister will be meeting with state Premiers and Chief Ministers at COAG tomorrow and will be discussing the range of ways in which state and territory and federal governments can work together to ensure the security of the Australian people. We don't want to see a duplication or replication. There are many instances where we need more streamlined approaches, particularly in the area of security and that's we are seeking to do. These are issues that will need to be confirmed with state and territory governments.

JOURNALIST: Digital connectivity has been something that's been around for decades. Why has it taken until 2017 to launch this strategy?

JULIE BISHOP: You could ask that of any nation around the world. This is one of the first comprehensive international cyber engagement strategies; it doesn't mean we've been doing nothing. Up until now, we've had many partnerships, which I indicated in my speech. We've been working for a very long time on issues of the laws and rules that should apply as I indicated. In 2013 we chaired a Group of Experts of the United Nations that agreed that international laws applied to cyberspace. In 2015 that same group chaired by Australia listed a set of norms that should govern acceptable behaviour in cyberspace and I appointed Tobias Feakin as Australia's first Ambassador for Cyber Affairs and he and his team have developed this International engagement strategy for cyberspace. We continue to build on the work that we've already done over the years and this Strategydescribes how we would conduct our defensive cyber capabilities and how we can harness the opportunities that cyberspace presents but how we mitigate the risks.

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