Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Minister for Home Affairs and Cyber Security Claire O’Neil have announced the appointment of Royal Australian Air Force senior officer Air Marshal Darren Goldie as Australia’s first National Cyber Security Coordinator.
Air Marshal Goldie has been promoted from Air-Vice Marshal for the role, and is highly regarded in Australian Defence Force ranks. He has served in the RAAF since 1993 and is currently Air Commander Australia (ACAUST) based at Glenbrook in the lower Blue Mountains, and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the air force.
The PM said the new role will, together with the National Office of Cyber Security within the Department of Home Affairs, ensure Australia is well positioned to respond to both the opportunities and challenges of the digital age.
“Strengthening Australia’s cyber security is a fundamental priority for my government. It underpins the way that we live, the way that we work and the way that we communicate,” he said. “And the appointment of the National Cyber Security Coordinator will be an essential component of providing this protection.
“In this role, Air Marshal Goldie will support the Minister for Cyber Security to lead the coordination of national cyber security policy, responses to major cyber incidents, work of whole of government cyber incident preparedness efforts and, of course, strengthening Commonwealth cyber security capability,” he added.
Although Air Marshal Goldie comes from a flying background primarily on C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, the modern air force has to take cyber security and safety into account in all of its daily operations.
“Air Marshal Goldie has been responsible for managing security in the Air Force,” Minister O’Neil said. “Cyber security is a part of every security issue that the air force faces, so he’s got significant experience from that regard.
“I would just say, something that I don’t think is well understood about this area, is that cyber incident response is not principally a technical problem, it’s an operational problem,” she added. “If you think about Medibank and Optus, the ones that I think our nation’s most familiar with, a lot of the issues are very practical and operational.
“How do we replace the driver’s licences of millions of Australians? How do we replace their passports, how do we ensure that we’re working across government to get information off the dark web that shouldn’t be there? So we are incredibly confident and very pleased that this commendable person, who has served his nation in uniform for so long, has agreed to take on this responsibility.”
Minister O’Neil described the appointment as an important piece of the jigsaw puzzle being put in place, and that she expects Air Marshal Goldie to drive the work across government in cyber security with force and velocity that is needed to meet what is a very substantial and seriously growing challenge.
Air Marshal Goldie said little in the press conference, with Minister O’Neil asking journalists to let him get his “feet under the desk” first. But he did offer that he thought the role was one that is centred on leadership.
“Australia is fortunate enough to have some of the best cyber practitioners in the world, they are well led,” he said. “What I think my role will centre on, the coordination and leadership role, and information both to the Australian people and to the Australian Government.
“I think the cyber challenge that Australia faces along with the rest of the world is dire,” he added. “That challenge will continue to increase in its complexity and severity and I think we are all in this together as a nation and it will behove us all to continue to be educated.”
Despite taking over as ACAUST just last February from the retiring Air Vice Marshal Joe Iervasi, Air Marshal Goldie will assume the role of National Cyber Security Coordinator from 3 July. This means his tour as ACAUST will effectively be cut in half from the usual three years, and may require a hasty reshuffle in the RAAF’s one and two-star officer ranks to accommodate the move.