Chapter 4 Outcome 3
DFAT describes Outcome 3 as focusing on:
A secure Australian Government presence overseas through the
provision of security services and information and communications technology
infrastructure and the management of the Commonwealth’s overseas owned estates.
This outcome is concerned with effective security procedures in
protecting Australian Government personnel and consular posts overseas. In
doing so, DFAT aims to manage overseas networks in an efficient and effective
manner, including its owned overseas estates.
Issues raised in relation to Outcome 3 and its Program included:
- the potential role of
e-diplomacy in DFAT’s enhancement of security measures; and
- the management of the
Overseas Owned Estate.
E-diplomacy and communications security
As mentioned in Chapter 2, e-diplomacy is concerned with the use of
internal and external communication by the Department in improving the
efficiency and facilitation of information. It is the use of web and
information and communication technologies (ICT) to help carry out diplomatic
In June 2010, DFAT completed the installation of a new internet gateway.
The aim is to further enhance security and provide greater ease of access for
the department’s remote working capability.
In addition, the department completed the three-year ICT Asset-Refresh
program. Through this program the department enhanced its communications to
missions, and ensured the continuity of reliable communications in high-risk
However the level of risk involved in the utilisation of e-diplomacy may
compromise the security of the department. Mr Hanson noted that there is a
level of necessary modest risk involved in the effective utilisation of
Mr Mirchandani told the Committee about governments which have attempted
to impose controls and censorship on new media. In particular:
The US has attempted to gain legal control over Twitter
accounts to find out who leaked what to whom. More recently in the UK we have
seen attempts to sue Twitter for revealing names in what has been called the
‘super junction’ case.
DFAT told the Committee that the department has cautiously engaged with
e-diplomacy and will continue to be tentative in its approach. It will continue
its limited engagement with e-diplomacy in relation to security.
DFAT added that the information security of the department had been
systematically reviewed. Consequently, DFAT was confident that the leaking of
documents as experienced within the US is unlikely.
Australian Government-owned property overseas accounts for 400
properties in 60 locations, with a value totalling $1.7 billion. It is managed
by the Overseas Property Office (OPO). DFAT is the largest tenant, accounting
for 65% of all rent collected.
The overseas property special account is an operation funded by the
income generated from the rents payed to the OPO. It is a self-funding service
that distributes the surplus attained from the rent to properties in need of
This account has been used for the midlife upgrades of properties in
Wellington, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. DFAT told the Committee that Paris and
Washington will soon undergo their midlife upgrades.
It was noted during the review that the current Australian embassy in
Brussels was not of a reputable standard.
DFAT told the Committee that the current lease for the embassy in
Brussels was coming to an end. As such, it was currently identifying and
negotiating a new building to serve as the new Australian embassy in that city.
The Committee notes DFAT’s satisfaction with how it responds to these
issues but cautions that with continuous reporting of cyber warfare issues
involving all Industrialised countries including Australia,
DFAT needs to be alert to the security of its e-network.