Oct 27, 2009

Question without notice – E-Security

Question without notice – E-Security

Parliament House, Canberra

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

27 October 2009

Mr RIPOLL (2:59 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, the Minister representing the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. How is information technology such as the internet and email assisting businesses and organisations to achieve their objectives? Are there any examples where businesses or organisations have failed to ensure the security of their e-communications, thereby undermining those objectives?

Mr ALBANESE (Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government) —I thank the member for Oxley for his question. Labor is investing in the National Broadband Network to help businesses and organisations improve their productivity within their work places and, indeed, beyond. But all technology brings with it some risks. That is why in June of this year the government launched the E-security Awareness Week. Members of the House will recall that during the last week of sittings in June I outlined to the House some of the precautions that we need to take in protecting our electronic communications. But I have to report, with some regret, that in spite of that not everyone learned the lessons of E-security Awareness Week.

In today’s Australian, in an article entitled ‘Dig dirt, Turnbull office urges’, it highlights the risks of electronic communications being leaked. You do not have to be Sherlock Holmes—with due respect to Matthew Franklin—to know that this email instructing coalition media advisers was about digging dirt because the subject line on the email was headed ‘Digging Dirt’—nothing if not subtle, this one. This is no ordinary guide to dirt digging. The Liberal Party guide to dirt digging is no Lonely Planet-style digging-on-a-shoestring guide. This is the Encyclopaedia Britannica of dirt digging. It is a comprehensive, detailed, considered and targeted guide to digging dirt, to smearing your opponents in your own political interests. Like many on this side of the House, I shudder when I hear the three words together ‘Malcolm Turnbull’ and ‘email’. But here is what the email said:

While policy discussions are nice, the simple fact is that in opposition, the majority of our successful news stories are going to be ones which are a little quirky…

According to the Australian:

Malcolm Turnbull’s office has been advising Coalition press secretaries to demonise special interest groups and attack public servants as fat cats.

There we have it. The modern Liberal Party’s core philosophy: don’t worry about policy, just stick to dirt digging and scare campaigns. That is the core message of this approved email. That is the core message of the leadership of the Leader of the Opposition. That is the core message of the modern Liberal Party: don’t engage in the big policy debates like climate change, the economic recession response, telecommunications reform—just stick to digging dirt. But the opposition is digging itself into irrelevance because when you do not have any policies all you are left with is the dirty politics of fear and smear on every single issue, and dirty emails to spread them with.