Interview with Sunrise

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Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC

Minister for Defence

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Nicky Hamer (Minister Reynolds’ Office): +61 437 989 927

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30 June 2020

Interview with Sunrise, David Koch

Topics: ADF support to Victoria, Cyber funding announcement

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DAVID KOCH: Well, nearly 200 Defence Force medical staff are being deployed in Victoria to help control the growing number of coronavirus cases. 68 medics arrived in Melbourne yesterday afternoon from Darwin and Brisbane with another 30 driving in from Albury and more still to come. The ADF personnel are helping with the huge testing blitz in five coronavirus hotspots. It comes after the state recorded 75 new cases yesterday, the state's fourth-worst result since the entire pandemic began. Bit of a worry, isn't it? For more, I'm joined by Defence Minister Linda Reynolds in Canberra. Minister, appreciate your time. How exactly is the Defence Force helping in Victoria?

MINISTER REYNOLDS: Well, we are currently deploying over 200 medical personnel to assist with the testing blitz in Victoria. We had another 100 arrive yesterday and as you said, more arriving today. They are out on the ground right across Victoria, assisting with the testing blitz.

DAVID KOCH: Okay, has Victoria been a bit too slow in asking for help? Because you had it on offer for a week or so, now, haven't you?

MINISTER REYNOLDS: Well, the Defence Force have been in Victoria and right across the nation for several months now, assisting in a wide variety of ways with the coronavirus pandemic. So this is a national problem and a national response.

DAVID KOCH: Yeah. What are the rules for engagement if you like with the ADF? Could they be setting up blockades of particular suburbs and hotspots?

MINISTER REYNOLDS: Well our ADF are not law enforcement agents, so what they do is assist law enforcement right across the nation in quarantine areas and in state blockades, but what they are not doing is they are not enforcing law enforcement powers. They are assisting by providing logistics and administration in particular.

DAVID KOCH: Okay, with the information you're getting, how is Victoria handling this?

MINISTER REYNOLDS: Well Kochie that is really an issue for Victoria. My involvement is to make sure that we have available the ADF personnel not just for Victoria, but right across the nation to assist where we are best placed to assist.

DAVID KOCH: Yeah, and it really is a national effort as you say, which is great. Just while we have you, the Government is making the nation's largest ever investment into cyber security today, $1.3 billion. A lot of money. But what will that money go towards?

MINISTER REYNOLDS: Well Kochie, as you said, we are today announcing the largest single investment in cyber security for our nation, a $1.35 billion investment; and that is because malicious cyber activity against Australia and Australians is increasing in both scale, complexity, and impact on Australians. This will go towards providing greater technical information and advice, and resources for the Australian Signals Directorate and also the Australian Cyber Security Centre. But Kochie, I think most importantly, we are increasing our cyber security workforce, so $470 million of that will go towards employing 500 new cyber security experts from around Australia.

DAVID KOCH: Have the Americans pressured you to do this? They've done it before, said, "you've got to make the investment, otherwise we're not going to share intelligence with you".

MINISTER REYNOLDS: Kochie, not at all. In my time as Minister over the last 12 months, the Australian Signals Directorate in particular works incredibly closely with the NSA and US Cyber Command. This is an Australian response to threats to our own nation.

DAVID KOCH: Alright Minister, appreciate your time.


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