Media Release

Ports Australia calls for ongoing consultation after Critical Infrastructure reforms hearing

Posted on
July 9, 2021

Ports Australia is encouraged by consultation from Government after participating in Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee’s latest public hearing on the Critical Infrastructure Bill review, but more is needed for proper co-design of security requirements under the Bill which better align with industry.

The importance of Australia’s supply chain for our livelihood makes it an attractive target and its vital we remain vigilant and prepared for the evolving nature of security risks.

Earlier this week, Ports Australia and its members met with the Aviation and Maritime Division at Department of Home Affairs for a collaborative discussion on the Critical Infrastructure reforms. Ports Australia appreciates the Government’s appetite to further secure our nation’s infrastructure assets and their consultation on the revision of the Critical Infrastructure Bill thus far.

Ports Australia was joined by a range of representatives from supply chain, transport, water and utilities sectors as witnesses at yesterday’s (Thursday 8 July 2021) public hearing Chaired by Senator James Paterson. Witnesses shared their perspectives on the Bill’s proposed review and how it can be pragmatically rethought to support how our industries operate, rather than creating unnecessary red tape for key supply chain players.

At the hearing, Ports Australia’s CEO, Mike Gallacher said industry will support government’s work once its current weaknesses are addressed.

‘We want to support this legislation, we will support it, but we want to see it work and that’s the key, we need to see it work… there is a glaring weakness in the legislation that has a real confusion to who is actually responsible for the delivery of port services and we need to get it fixed otherwise the only people who are going to take advantage of it are going to be bad people,’ Mike said.

More work is needed to revise the Bill so it recognises the intricacies of ports, like who is responsible for each moving part in their operations, what defines an infrastructure asset as critical, and how we can better co-design the security requirements for these assets so they align with operations.

To summarise, Ports Australia is calling for:

• Clearer definitions for responsibilities of entities, especially when recognising that it should be port facility operators (stevedores for example) who are critical port assets, NOT the port operator. This also extends to critical infrastructure assets where the definition of responsibilities must be clarified (concerning assets like intermodal terminals).

• The definition of critical infrastructure assets to be clarified so we can identify which assets are captured as critical (intermodal terminals for example).

• Continued industry engagement on the co-design of security requirements which properly align with the processes of supply chain operations.

Ports Australia’s CEO, Mike Gallacher thanked members and government for their extensive consultation as engagement continues.

‘The nature of ports and other supply chain links demands security be a top priority for their continued service to the nation… that’s something our ports are vigilantly aware of and Ports Australia thanks government for their engagement to ensure the provisions in place are sustainable into the future,’ Mike said.

‘Where Ports Australia was previously concerned by the proposed reforms’ lack of understanding of how our sector operates, we’re now encouraged by their appetite to sit with us and build that understanding so the reforms yield more pragmatic outcomes.

‘It would be foolish to make a shopping centre like Westfields responsible for the security provisions at each and every store within their centre, just as it would be foolish to enforce the same rules on a port operator with a multitude of businesses operating within their boundaries.

‘Ports Australia’s members have consulted tirelessly with us and government to ensure we get this right and we will continue until the revisions are synonymous with how our industry ticks,’ Mike ended.


Media: Josh Appleton – E:

Ports Australia is the peak industry body representing port authorities and corporations, both publicly and privately owned, at the national level.

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