The Australian Defence Force is serious about security. So serious, it has decided that it’s impossible to protect the nation’s military data, therefore it has given up and awarded China direct control of our sensitive military information. Or, you’d be forgiven for thinking so.
In 2016, the parent company of Global Switch, Aldersgate, which stored Australia’s most sensitive data, sold 49% of its stake to a Chinese consortium, Elegant Jubilee. This means that Elegant Jubilee has a stake in Global Switch, which has Australia’s military data. Or supposedly had. At the time, it was deemed an imminent risk. Our then treasurer, now Prime Minister, Scott Morrison announced that the storage of all military documents at the Ultimo facility would be phased out by 2020.
What he meant was, by 2020 nothing will have changed and the contract with the Chinese-owned company would be renewed without a fuss. After all, how bad can China be? It makes sense to blackball electronics giant Huwaei while allowing a tech mob that is controlled by the greatest strategic threat unrestricted access to all of our premium military data. That’s just basic common sense. If you have no common sense.
On Tuesday, the government revealed with a straight face that the $53.5 m contracts would continue till at least 2025. It made no mention of its previous statement and didn’t clarify why it was allowing Communist China to take charge of our vital data. But that’s the prerogative of a government elected on a two-party basis in a thing called democracy, that decides which choices for the government you will have. We got this lot. The lot that sells our secrets into China’s possession.
When Global Switch was initially given the heave-ho, Morrison said, “They’ve made a decision to get their data out of that data centre and that’s an entirely appropriate decision, and they’ll get that done, I understand, by 2020.”
Today, as things are much worse between us and China than in 2017, he has revised that tone. Defending his move in parliament, he argues that the information held at the facility isn’t the most classified. So, don’t worry. She’ll be right, mate. There’s nothing important among all those tranches of military data. In which case, he may as well just hand it to The Australian and they can publish it.
However, while Global Switch is good enough for our champions at the Defence Force, the Australian Taxation Office and the Australian Securities and Investment Commission aren’t so sure. They’ve started moving their data somewhere else citing security concerns. Which makes them a pack of racist bludgers. Seriously, what are they worried about? China has long been chastising Australia for taking a negative attitude to the rise of the Communist nation. Xenophobes like the ATO and ASIC only make their case for them.
All joking aside, the ADF has admitted that some of its data have been migrated to an alternative site. Perhaps it’s not as easy as they think, or there is some other hitch to be considered because the estimate is now three-to-five years before it’s fully migrated.
A spokesman for Defence told the ABC, “Defence has extended its property lease to provide for Defence access to the Global Switch Ultimo (GSU) data facility beyond the original lease expiry date of 30 September 2020. The defence has migrated part of its holdings to an alternative data centre. This was completed in mid-2020.”
Whether the decision to tear up the contract was reneged on or the process simply delayed, it amounts to the same thing, an egregious bungle at a cost to taxpayers of $200 m.
All smiles, Global Switch’s group director Asia-Pacific Damon Reid beamed, “Across the many international markets in which we operate, Global Switch partners with governments and leading organisations to house their mission-critical IT infrastructure.”
Which is quite lovely for them, but hardly alleviates the fears of a nation being crowded by a Communist superpower drunk on its might.
“All our data centres provide our customers with world-class reliability, security and flexibility,” he added, still smiling, still showing his teeth, but shifting his eyes about.
Getting down to brass tacks, he told the ABC, “Global Switch has no access to any customer data, we simply build and operate high-quality real estate with the right power, cooling and physical security, so that our customers can focus on their core IT requirements.”
We find that a hard bone to chew. If security was that tight, there’s no way that China would have any interest in controlling it. After all, Confucius say, “Silence is a true friend who never betrays.”
Interestingly, today in Parliament, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, warned about unprecedented levels of ‘foreign spies’ active in Australia, more so than during the cold war. Of course, that means China. They’ve been busily threatening researchers at our top universities, and carrying on as you’d expect from the lineal successor to Nazi Germany.
Which makes it doubly illogical the ADF would choose not to immediately seize Australian security assets held by Global Switch and throw everyone connected with the company into an internment camp. Or, maybe just get back our data.
Still, they’re in government because they know best. It’s one of the guarantees of democracy.