Doorstop, Parliament House, Canberra

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The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

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02 6277 7800

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23 September 2022

JOURNALIST: If I could just get thoughts on the Optus breach. How concerning is it? This is the biggest data breach we've seen, really in Australia's history. Are we any closer finding out who was behind it?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, RICHARD MARLES: Well, it is very concerning. I'm limited in what I can say. The Australian Cybersecurity Centre is working very closely with Optus. And I know Optus is doing everything it can in what's obviously a very difficult moment for them. They have asked their customers to be very mindful of their data in the coming weeks. And that's obviously very good advice. And as I said, the ACSC will continue to work very closely with Optus.

JOURNALIST: Will you call out any state actors that may- or nefarious actors- that would have conducted the cyber-attack as a matter of deterrence?

MARLES: We will approach this in the way we have- in the way we normally do. And you know, I am limited in what I can say here. I think right now the focus is on Optus customers, making sure that they get the best information and the ACSC is working with Optus to make sure that that information is provided so that they can handle their affairs in the best possible way.

JOURNALIST: On Ukraine. Is Australia willing to provide more support given Mr. Putin statements? And do you believe he's bluffing in regards to alluding to nuclear weapons?

MARLES: Well, I think the statements that were made by President Putin overnight are appalling, simply appalling. We've seen President Putin go there before. And it is a real concern that he should be speaking in this way. We are imagining that the conflict with Ukraine will end up being one that is protracted, and that Ukraine is going to require support from countries over the long term. That's how we see it. We've been one of the largest non-NATO contributors to Ukraine up until this point in time. We are working with the Ukrainian government, and we will make sure that we provide support to Ukraine, so that they can be in a position to ultimately resolve this conflict on their terms, and that is how we must be approaching this.

JOURNALIST: Peter Dutton said that there might be too much red tape stopping Ukraine assistance getting there expeditiously. Is there too much red tape from the department?

MARLES: We are working very expeditiously in the support that we're providing Ukraine right now. The schedule of deliveries in relation to that which we've committed is happening. And so Ukraine is getting much needed support. They are certainly appreciative of that. I was in Europe a couple of weeks ago, the contributions that we have made are contributions which are very much noted by the European partners. And we will continue to work very closely with the Ukrainian government to look at ways in which we can provide support in an ongoing way.

JOURNALIST: Penny Wong will likely meet her Chinese counterpart this morning. What will her message be to him on issues like the detention of Australian citizens Cheng Lei, Yang Hengjun? And what will this meeting mean?

MARLES: Well, I'll leave the specifics to Penny. I haven't had an update on where it's at. But obviously there a meeting is in prospect, as you say. If the meeting occurs, I think we can see this as part of an attempt by our government to try and stabilize the relationship with China. Since the election, while there's been a change of government in this country, there's not been a change in our national interest. And we will speak very vigorously to Australia's national interest, particularly when that differs from Chinese action. We have always raised consular cases with China. And that will continue. But what's really important is that we go about our business in a way which is professional, sober and diplomatic. That's actually how you advance Australia's national interests.

Thank you.


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