The government has said it will up its cyber security efforts, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announcing a plan to give the Australian Cyber Security Centre “24/7 capability to respond to serious cyber incidents”.
“This capability will better meet the needs of the community and the Government in relation to rapidly emerging cyber events,” Turnbull said.
Alastair MacGibbon, currently the Prime Minister’s Special Advisor on Cyber Security, will lead the ACSC as part of a range of changes announced in response to a review of Australia’s intelligence community conducted by Professor Michael L'estrange, the former secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The focus of the government shakeup announced today by Turnbull was the creation of a so-called ‘super ministry’. The new Home Affairs portfolio will cover immigration, border protection and domestic security and law enforcement agencies.
Home Affairs will act as a “central department providing strategic planning, coordination and other support to a ‘federation’ of independent security and law enforcement agencies including the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Border Force and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission,” the government said.
The portfolio will be led by immigration minister Peter Dutton, who will be suported by Attorney-General George Brandis and justice minister Michael Keenan.
Turnbull said the model was akin to the UK’s Home Office and “not a United States-style Department of Homeland Security.”
“The agencies will retain their current statutory independence which is such a vital aspect of our Australian system,” Turnbull said.
“The operational agencies will include ASIO, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Border Force, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre or AUSTRAC and the office of transport security.
“They will be supported by a central department that will oversee policy and strategic planning and the coordination of the operational response to the threats we face.”
ASIO, the AFP and Australian Border Force will all report directly to the Home Affairs minister.
“This will ensure that these three important agencies have direct reporting into the cabinet,” Turnbull said.
The government will establish a new Office of National Intelligence, Turnbull announced, to “ensure more effective coordination of Australia's intelligence effort”.
In addition, the Australian Signals Directorate will become a statutory authority sitting within the government’s Defence portfolio.