PETER KHALIL MP
MEMBER FOR WILLS
SKY NEWS FIRST EDITION
TUESDAY 8 NOVEMBER 2022
Subjects: Medibank breach, Industrial Relations Bill
PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Let’s go to Canberra now. Joining us is our panel, Peter Khalil, James Paterson. James, we’ll start with you. Good morning to you. Start with you. Good morning, by the way. I do want to get your response to this response from the hackers this morning. They are threatening to release the details of Medibank customers within the next 24 hours. So, the clock is now ticking. What’s your reaction to that this morning?
SENATOR JAMES PATERSON: Good morning, Peter. Well, unfortunately, this is another piece of concerning news for Medibank customers who have had a distressing couple of weeks and each day they seem to learn new, more concerning news about the Medibank breach. The most important thing today for Medibank customers is to be on high alert personally for any individualised attempts to extort them personally. They should be aware if that happens. It’s not necessarily the hacker. It might well be people trying to piggyback off the hacker and try and opportunistically take advantage of this news and they should not assume that anyone who contacts them actually does have their data. They also shouldn’t assume that paying anyone will protect them in any way. What they should do is they’re contacted is to contact the hotline that Medibank has set up and notified its customers of to alert them of that and be on high alert for any suspicious activity on any of their accounts, on their email, on their bank accounts, and to notify their bank if they observe any suspicious activity.
STEFANOVIC: So, is there anymore that Medibank can be doing or is it up to the customer now?
PATERSON: Look, I think the unfortunate thing about the Medibank crisis is that the company’s understanding of the attack has evolved and yesterday I asked the Information Commissioner before the Senate estimates about that and she said that’s a matter of active investigation, because it is important that companies disclose what they know when they know it. And it will be important to understand whether Medibank has done that. But that’s kind of for after the crisis. We just need to get through the crisis at this stage. I understand that Medibank is cooperating with the Australian Cyber Security Centre. Who will be also appearing before Senate Estimates this afternoon. We’ll discuss that further with them. But it’s critical that they continue that operations to protect their customers as best they can.
STEFANOVIC: Okay, let’s bring in Peter Khalil now. Pete good morning to you. So, this is as we all know now, the two big hacks in two months, have hackers identified a weak spot here in Australia, a country that they’ll keep on trying to hit. Now
PETER KHALIL, MEMBER FOR WILLS: Yeah. Good morning, Carl. I was looking at some statistical analysis around this and there’s been a.
STEFANOVIC: Wrong channel.
KHALIL: Oh, Pete, sorry I called you Carl. I’m so sorry, that’s a bit of a slip of the tongue, you’re better looking too. I thought I was on the Today Show, anyway we won’t go there, it’s an early morning start. Look, Pete, I’ve got to say, I was looking at some of the analysis around this and the increases in cyber-attacks on Australians has been pretty steady over the last period of time, last couple of years, in fact about 34% of Australians have been subject to some form of cyber-attack, where we’re only about 11% of a serious assault or burglary or crime like that. So, it is part of our world, now, these cyber-attacks. And I think it’s really important that Medibank doesn’t pay the ransomware because doing, doing such and this is the Government advice of course doing such would actually undermine our cyber security efforts, put further personal information of Australians, businesses and infrastructure at risk because they’ll keep doing it right. So, you asked me about this a while back and that was my view then, and it’s the Government’s view now that they’re doing the right thing. It’s consistent with government advice. But James makes a very good point about the risks to individuals now. They need to be wary, as he said, of other criminals trying to take advantage of this situation and sending them, you know, emails and so on to try and pretend that they’re going to provide their information, try and scam them for money. So that’s a very important thing. Medibank has set up some very good hotlines and support services and the Federal Government is working assiduously now that Clare O’Neil, the Home Affairs Minister, set up what’s called a national, what we call a national coordination mechanism, which is a new mechanism that ensures that there’s a focus across all levels of government and industry to deal with these cyber threats. So that’s really, really important efforts being made. And we need to, you know, keep reviewing. There’s going to be a cyber review of our cyber laws as well to ensure that they’re fit for purpose for the world that we live in.
STEFANOVIC: So, James, according to Trevor Long, he’s our tech expert, was across this in our last hour. He’s pointed to a Russian dark website where this is all coming from. So, do we deduce from this that the Russians are responsible?
PATERSON: Look, we should be careful not to make assumptions based on partial information. It is possible and it is often the case that ransomware gangs operate out of jurisdictions like Russia. It is one of the major centres of it, but it’s not the only one. They’re also commonly operate in North Korea and Iran and China and elsewhere in the world and in actually ally jurisdictions. But under the radar, without the cooperation or protection of law enforcement or intelligence agencies. So, we shouldn’t make assumptions, but it wouldn’t be out of the realms of possibility that this was a Russian based gang.
KHALIL: Can I just add on that that website that you’re referring to? Yeah, that website that you’re referring to. I think it’s called Revil or something like that.
STEFANOVIC: Yeah, it is. Yeah.
KHALIL: Apparently, yeah. Apparently, the Russian authorities sort of tried to shut it down a while back, but obviously since the war, maybe they’ve got a bit lax, maybe
STEFANOVIC: They’re back again.
KHALIL: It’s been busier. as James said, you can’t you don’t know, you can’t ascribe yet because there’s not enough information.
STEFANOVIC: And like given the war, I mean, we don’t have much of a relationship with the Russkies at the moment to, do we? So, that makes any kind of negotiation with them a very, very difficult. We’ve only got a minute left, guys. I do want to ask you about IR, Pete start with you here. Why not just split the bill to appease opponents who say it’s being rushed?
KHALIL: Okay. So, I’ve heard you ask this question, Pete, a number of times. We’ve made a commitment to get wages moving and the IR reforms are that we’re putting in place through the Parliament. The change of laws are all about closing the gender pay gap, improving work conditions and boosting bargaining, making bargaining work again to get wages moving. Now I know people in the Senate like Senator Pocock and by the way, we’ve actually in good faith negotiated some amendments as well. One of the amendments is to allow individual workforces a vote. So, if they don’t want to be part, if the majority of workers in that individual workforce don’t want be part of the multi-employer agreement, they can opt out. So, we’ve done that in good faith. But here’s the point, you know, I mean I’m pretty sure Senator Pocock, for example, knows that the average income in Canberra is pretty high. It’s higher than anywhere else in Australia I think, and it’s a lot higher than the average income in my electorate, in the northern suburbs of Melbourne where there are low and middle income earners who have a real need to get wages moving and this is how we do it, especially ahead of Christmas. So, we think it’s important to get these laws and get these laws changed and get these wages moving.
STEFANOVIC: Okay And final one here to you, James. I mean, yeah, Pete pointed out to a few amendments there. Does that make it any more or less palatable for you?
PATERSON: Well, this is now an embarrassing farce for the Albanese government. They’ve announced multiple amendments to their own government bill before it’s even been voted on in the Parliament. And this is all a result of them trying to jam it through the Parliament in just a couple of weeks and not giving the Senate adequate time to consider this. It would have been possible had they allowed a Senate committee proper normal amount of time to scrutinise these bills that it could have passed with the consent of the crossbenchers. But instead, they’ve offended everyone in the Senate by trying to ram this through and protect it from scrutiny. The truth is, we all know this is just about restoring union power. This is what the Labor Party is going to do and it’s very dangerous for our economy in the uncertain time we’re going into, it will lead to more strikes, it will lead to more unlawful activity, particularly in the building industry. With their decision to abolish the Australian Building and Construction Commission and when we’ve got inflation running as high as it is already, it’s hard to see how this is going to help anyone, particularly people in small business
STEFANOVIC: Gentlemen we are out of time, I don’t even have time for you to respond, you’ve got 15 seconds Pete, 15 seconds go
KHALIL: Well I thought James liked the fact that democracy works where you can negotiate in good faith with Senators like himself in the Senate to improve bills, and we did so in good faith and we have come up with some amendments, and no, there’s still blocks on pattern bargaining, there’s still elements in the Bill to guard against protracted strikes, so I reject what he has said, it sounds a bit partisan to me
STEFANOVIC: Alright Peter Khalil, James Patterson, good to have you with us, appreciate that, thank you.