A joint media release from the Attorney General and the Treasurer has announced the launch of a dedicated centre to manage the complex and evolving national security risks to Australia’s critical infrastructure.
The centre will be set-up within the Attorney-General’s Department, so that all levels of government, owners and operators can work together to identify and manage these risks. .
The media release states that with increased privatisation, supply chain arrangements being outsourced and offshored, and the shift in our international investment profile, Australia’s national critical infrastructure is more exposed than ever to sabotage, espionage and coercion.
These risks need to be managed by adopting a coordinated and strategic framework. This challenge is not something the Commonwealth can address alone.
The Centre will develop coordinated, whole-of-government national security risk assessments and advice to support government decision-making on investment transactions. It will also provide greater certainty and clarity to investors and industry on the types of assets that will attract national security scrutiny.
While the Centre’s initial focus will be on the most critical assets in our electricity, water and ports sectors, the Government will consult with states, territories, industry and investors to consider what other assets require attention.
The Centre will also develop and maintain a critical assets register that will enable a consolidated view of critical infrastructure ownership in high risk sectors across the country. This will help to proactively manage the national security risks that can arise from operational and procurement strategies.
As a first step, the Centre will soon publicly release a discussion paper outlining the challenges we face and seeking views on additional measures that could assist.
The Centre supports the existing foreign investment framework, which will continue to assess and manage foreign investment applications on a case-by-case basis.