The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security is inquiring into a bill to protect critical cyber security infrastructure, which will include all university operations. Matthew Brown (Group of Eight), Catriona Jackson (Universities Australia), Conor King (Innovative Research Universities) and Luke Sheehy (Australian Technology Network) gave evidence Friday afternoon, repeating the substance of submissions – that their members are on-board with the legislation’s intent but there is no need to include absolutely all their operations.
But one which might need to be included, is allowing students from surveillance states to submit essays on paper and not just on politically obvious issues. Committee chair, Senator James Paterson (Lib-Victoria) suggested, “the Chinese state in particular has a range of sensitivities that you can’t always anticipate and students, I think quite reasonably, have anxieties about electronic submission because some of them come from authoritarian, technological surveillance states and that option might be of comfort to them.”
That the sector is keen to cooperate was perhaps demonstrated by Ms Jackson having to leave the hearing early and by Ms Thomson not making it at all. CMM does not know what was in diaries but the Universities Foreign Interference Taskforce, on which both UA and Go8 have seats, was scheduled to meet Friday pm.