Communications Alliance urges work on infrastructure reforms

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Wednesday, 23 September, 2020

Communications Alliance urges work on infrastructure reforms

Telecommunications industry peak body Communications Alliance has urged the government to undertake a thorough analysis before determining if any additional action is needed on securing critical infrastructure.

The body’s CEO, John Stanton, said while the industry shares the government’s desire to protect Australia’s critical infrastructure and is keen to contribute to the efforts to shore it up, the sector is already collaborating with the government in these areas.

“The telecommunications sector already collaborates extensively and effectively with government, security agencies and regulators across a number of regulatory and legislative instruments and frameworks to promote national security,” he said.

He added that the sector also engages with emergency services organisations as well as federal and state organisations in relation to natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, the sector is subject to a number of stringent requirements, such as the need to assist law enforcement agencies on request and to protect their critical infrastructure and supply chains.

“Given the very advanced nature of the security arrangements in the telecommunications sector, it is critical that a thorough gap analysis be undertaken to identify whether there are any areas that require additional attention,” Stanton said.

“If government agrees to do this, we are happy to work with all stakeholders to finetune the existing legislative framework of our sector, to ensure that consistent, efficient and proportionate arrangements are put in place.”

Stanton said the industry is also calling on the government to ensure the teased reforms are supported by independent oversight and authorisation mechanisms.

“The protection of critical infrastructure is a national priority and, as such, must also be tackled through a collaborative approach across all sectors and stakeholders.

“It would be prudent for government to bring together an expert group across all stakeholders and sectors to progress the implementation of the reforms.”

Stanton said such an approach was pursued successfully several years ago to address the practicalities of implementing new data retention laws, and this can serve as a model for the government’s engagement with industry on the critical infrastructure reforms.

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