UA is the peak body for Australia’s 39 comprehensive universities. Our members are spread across Australia, in both regional and metropolitan areas. They educate more than a million students each year and undertake research that both underpins and drives innovation in the economy.
Universities have a long history of working collaboratively and effectively with government agencies on security matters, such as the amendments to the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 and, as partners in the University Foreign Interference Taskforce, to develop and implement The Guidelines to counter foreign interference in the Australian university sector. Australian universities recognise that they are a key element in ensuring Australia’s prosperity, social cohesion and security.
This submission presents the key principles and issues in relation to the university sector, which is a part of the Education, Research and Innovation sector that was identified as one of the target sectors for inclusion in the amendments to the Security of Critical Infrastructure Act 2018 (the Act). Our members appreciate the Commonwealth’s invitation to work in partnership with the sector to develop proportionate requirements that maintain a careful balance between security and workability.
Universities Australia would be pleased, on behalf of its members, to work with the Department of Home Affairs further on the detailed and important work required to develop proportionate requirements through the identification of appropriate thresholds and scope.