Statement on the Census by ACS President Anthony Wong
The privacy and security of our nation’s data is a critical national and economic priority. Last night, millions of Australians logged on to the ABS website to complete their census form and were left frustrated that they were unable to do so.
I have spoken recently about Australia being equipped with robust tools and capabilities to manage these processes, not just for the nation, but for the digital future of Australia.
A thorough and wide-ranging investigation into the source of last night’s events must be undertaken by the appropriate authorities. This includes close scrutiny of the arrangements for testing and securing the census servers, and the ACS is pleased to see this commitment made by the Government this morning.
In April, the Government launched its national Cyber Security Strategy. The Strategy highlighted that demand for cyber security services and related jobs in Australia is forecast to grow by at least 21 per cent over the next five years. Despite this, Australia is suffering from a national shortage of cyber security professionals.
As the ACS highlighted in its 2016 Election Manifesto, our ability to fully realise the opportunities afforded by the projected $139bn digital economy will be jeopardised, to an extent, if we have poor cyber security systems and platforms, compounded by an undersupply of skilled ICT specialists.
We now need to have a more serious conversation about our ability to lift our resilience and capabilities in the field of cyber security. In five years’ time there will be another census. As a nation, there will be an expectation that the circumstances of yesterday will not be repeated. Serious investment into developing Australia’s data security capabilities and digital technologies is now essential, alongside leadership and collaboration between the Government, business and industry.
As the professional association for Australia’s ICT sector, the ACS is ready to work with the Government and key stakeholders to address our cyber security dilemma as a matter of urgency.