In the digital age, South Australia is well placed to build capacity and employment in cybersecurity and the space industry – to underpin Australia’s diplomatic and defence ties in the region and on the global stage, says US international expert Jeff Bleich.
In Adelaide this week, the former US Ambassador to Australia and namesake of Flinders University’s Jeff Bleich Centre for the US Alliance in Digital Technology, Security, and Governance (or ‘JBC’) is due to meet SA Premier Peter Malinauskas, senior public servants and private sector leaders.
“South Australia is internationally recognised as a hub of growing significance in the cyber and space sectors for the Indo-Pacific region,” says the Hon Jeff Bleich, who also was Special Counsel to former US President Barack Obama.
“The introduction of the AUKUS treaty has emphasised the importance of the US-Australian alliance, the values we share as democracies, and the future we are working to secure for our people,” he says.
“New technologies have empowered hostile nations, organised crime networks, terror groups, and hacktivists with low-cost, high-impact tools. The threats go beyond damage to grids, finance systems, etc. — they threaten things as basic as how we elect our leaders and govern ourselves, and how we will work with close allies.
“It has never been more important for Governments and social institutions to adapt to the fact that some of our greatest security threats reside in space and cyber.”
The AUKUS trilateral security pact for the Indo-Pacific region was announced by Australia, the UK and US in September 2021.
Mr Bleich will be part of an American Chamber of Commerce SA business lunch discussing ‘Space and Cyber: The Threats, Challenges and Opportunities’ – to be attended by the Deputy Premier Dr Susan Close and US Consul-General Kathleen Lively.
Mr Bleich says he is “honoured to be able to speak directly to South Australian Government leaders about the rapidly emerging cyber landscape that is impacting on our lives – here in Australia, at home in the US and in many other democratic nations at this critical time.”
During his SA visit, Mr Bleich will help deliver free workshops to educate senior SA public servants in social cyber awareness. Entitled ‘Navigating the Digital Dilemma,’ the JBC workshops have received funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
Flinders University Professor Michael Gilding, Vice-President and Executive Director of the College of Business Government and Law, says the Jeff Bleich Centre is conducting training and research in core areas of digital and space security.
“The JBC is a research and training centre established to inform the public and democratic policymakers about challenges posed to democratic societies by digital technologies,” Professor Gilding says.
“Research and talent are needed to help the public and policymakers recognise potential threats, coalesce around solutions, and deploy laws, regulations, countermeasures, and public education to anticipate and develop plans to deal with new threats.
“Because of their rare history of trust and cooperation in the digital space, the United States and Australia are uniquely positioned to collaborate in developing these solutions,” he says.
The Jeff Bleich Centre at Flinders University aspires to be a trusted and respected public resource from which leaders of allied democratic nations, their universities, and other civic institutions seeking an international liberal order can draw valuable insights, develop collaborative solutions, and find talent to address the policy issues posed by the digital age that threaten their common democratic values and structures.