MUA Submission to Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security

In this submission we agreed that an uplift in security and resilience across critical infrastructure sectors may be necessary to ensure that businesses benefit from strengthened protections to the networks, systems and services we all depend on.

We submitted that the key to any uplift in security and resilience is proportionality, particularly in relation to impacts on workforces and their human rights, transparency around the reasons for such an uplift, and the way it is managed and regulated.

We noted that along with failure in energy systems, failure in any part of the transport and logistics system, particularly ships and ports, can have almost immediate consequential impacts through the supply chain, impacting on many businesses and households. We submitted however that the Bill has seriously underestimated the criticality of ships, shipping and sea freight corridors as critical infrastructure in the functioning of the economy and in ensuring Australian citizens and businesses are supplied with goods and services, and that our sovereignty is protected.

We said the Bill is deficient in that it has not adequately included ships, shipping and sea freight corridors. That omission must be rectified and we urged the Committee to recommend such an improvement. We submitted that because the Bill does not create certainty about the application of the Security of Critical Infrastructure Act 2018 (SOCI Act) to ships and shipping, it camouflages and leaves a gap in Australia’s critical infrastructure risk mitigation system which the Bill seeks to strengthen. We identified a number of areas where we propose that the Bill strengthened in relation to ships and shipping, particularly definitions. For example:

  • The meaning of critical liquid fuel asset – ships are excluded yet they are the critical infrastructure transporting oil for Australian refineries and refined petroleum products for domestic storage and distribution for use by businesses and households; and
  • The meaning of critical freight infrastructure asset – which specifically refers to road and rail networks, but omits a reference to ships and sea freight corridors, yet ships transport some 17 per cent of Australia’s domestic freight and some 98 per cent of the nation’s international freight.

Read the MUA Submission Here MUA – Submission to Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security – Critical Infrastructure Bill – February 2021

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