Get Set – First Minister for Cyber Security Completes Government’s Team
July 22 2016 – There is big news for cyber security in the new Federal Ministry – Australia’s first Minister for Cyber Security.
The appointment of Dan Tehan – an experienced and respected politician with a long history of parliamentary service in security – puts in place the final piece of the new cyber security institutional leadership structure and gives a strong signal about the priority for that leadership.
Mr Tehan was appointed Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Cyber Security.
While Christian Porter had the role of Parliamentary Secretary to the PM on Cyber Security up to September 2015, the elevation of the role to Ministry status was announced in the Cyber Security Strategy released earlier this year.
Mr Tehan was appointed to the Joint Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee in 2013, and chaired that powerful committee from December 2013 to February this year, stepping down when he was appointed Minister for Veteran’s Affairs, Defence Materiel and Assisting the PM for the Centenary of ANZAC.
Cyber security goes mainstream.
The choice of a seasoned observer of the security environment rather than a technology expert is a deliberate signal from the Government that Australians all need to understand that cyber security needs to be integrated into daily life and mainstream business management.
The Strategy was designed to set the guidelines and goals to lift the national cyber security posture, and breaking cyber security out of the silos of IT departments was a front and centre message.
Since then, Government has put in place the public service structures to allow it to lead that conversation.
Firstly, the Prime Minister’s Department was re-organised to rectify the historically confused spread of responsibility for cyber security issues that had evolved across the public service.
Alastair MacGibbon was appointed to the position of Special Adviser to the PM on Cyber Security, separating and putting cyber security on the same footing in the Department as National Security and Counter Terrorism. He now sits atop all Government cyber-security activities.
All systems go, post election.
Most of the Departmental team that developed the Cyber Security Strategy will report to Mr MacGibbon, creating important continuity.
The appointment of an Assistant Minister was necessarily delayed by the election, but with Mr Tehan now in place, the new arrangements are complete.
Importantly, Mr Tehan will also be able to draw on experienced support. As a Minister assisting the PM, he will have the advisers on national security in the PM’s Office, who were also intimately involved in the Cyber Security Strategy development, providing him with direct advice.
Unfortunately, the sound and fury of the election coming so quickly after the Cyber Security Strategy release meant national attention was drawn away from the messages the Government was trying to send in the document sooner than was ideal.
While it is good news that cyber security policy is bipartisan, it meant politicians were naturally drawn to issues where the parties differed in the election context.
Now that we are back to business as usual, the pieces are finally in place for the conversation to be re-engaged.