The census debacle has forced the government to spend $10.7 million to create a new cybersecurity office

Photo: Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images

Treasurer Scott Morrison’s budget on Tuesday night revealed the launch of a new organisation to look after cybersecurity for the federal government and its agencies.

The Digital Transformation Agency will be granted $10.7 million over four years to establish a new Cyber Security Advisory Office, which will provide “central governance” and “assurance” for technology security across government.

“The CSAO will work with agencies to ensure they are appropriately managing the risks of cyber and other digital vulnerabilities on digital services,” said the government.

The new organisation has been created as a result of the review into the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ online census debacle last year, when the system going offline was blamed on denial-of-service attacks from Singapore.

President of professional body Australian Computer Society, Anthony Wong, welcomed the new security office as well as other tech measures announced in the budget.

“We were pleased to see the investments in the Cyber Security Advisory Office, backing of our fintech sector, and the commitment to improving student outcomes,” he said.

While Wong approved the increase in spending on education, he urged the government to emphasise STEM skills for the sake of the future of the nation.

“The ACS supports a stronger focus on building digital skills and digital literacy in Australian classrooms. This must be a critical economic and policy priority, especially when STEM is associated with 75 per cent of the fastest growing occupations, innovations and wage premiums,” he said.

The ACS predicted that a skill gap of 67,000 workers would be seen by 2020 in the technology and telecommunications industry unless action was taken.

Refraction Media co-founder and chief executive Karen Taylor-Brown was also disappointed with the budget’s conspicuous silence on Australia’s future skills requirements.

“We’ve seen in the US how technology and innovation became a political pariah, but I expected more from a Turnbull government, especially with the Prime Minister made his money in the heady dotcom boom days of the 90s.”

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