Question time response - Telecommunications

Mr Graham Perrett, Member for Morton: My question is to the Minister for Communications. What is the Albanese Labor government doing through the Quad partnership to support cable connectivity and network resilience in the Indo-Pacific?

Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland MP: I thank the member for Moreton for his question. First, of course, I acknowledge the momentous visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week and the significance of the Australia-India relationship to the broader Indo-Pacific. Both our countries appreciate the transformational power of ICT and the importance of cooperation in this area to support economic growth and development. The Albanese government is delivering a package of measures to respond to regional priorities and to support our shared interests. Recently, Quad leaders reaffirmed their shared commitment to an open, stable and prosperous region. Leaders announced a package that delivers on the Quad's practical agenda and responds to the region's needs, including an outcome on undersea communications cables. Undersea cables are key to global growth. To give the House a sense of that: they actually carry a greater value of trade, through financial transactions and information, than the value of goods carried at sea. By virtue of their importance, they are also a source of strategic vulnerability.

Ninety-five per cent of international data traffic in the Indo-Pacific is actually carried by undersea cable networks, so they are vital to enabling connectivity. To that end, our Prime Minister, with his counterparts, announced a new Quad partnership for cable connectivity and resilience last week. This will improve access to trusted and secure cable systems and establish better internet connectivity and resilience across the Indo-Pacific. The partnership will strengthen cable systems, drawing on the world-class expertise of Quad countries in manufacturing, delivering and maintaining that cable infrastructure. It will deepen connections between our people; support our development program investments in areas like health and education; and enhance cooperation across labour mobility, maritime security, policing, natural disaster responses, media, sport and telecommunications. This effort has been expertly led by our Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Defence and Minister for International Development and the Pacific.

The Quad is also stepping up efforts to strengthen supply chain resilience and improve the region's digital connectivity through access to critical and emerging technologies, including 5G networks. The transformative power of technology, including digital public infrastructure, to support sustainable development in the Indo-Pacific and deliver economic and social benefits cannot be understated, and to this end I acknowledge the respective roles of the Minister for Home affairs and the Minister for Industry and Science in these important areas. As is evident, we are taking a whole-of-government approach to support this work and to ensure that countries in our region can access high-quality and reliable communications which drive economic and social development.