Television Interview with David Koch – Sunrise – Friday 2 December 2022


SUBJECTS: Release of Medibank data; meeting of National Cabinet; Electricity Prices. 

DAVID KOCH: Now, all of the stolen Medibank data has now been posted on the dark web after the health insurer refused to pay a $15 million ransom demanded by the hackers. Medibank says the information should not be enough to enable identity fraud, but it is encouraging its 10 million current and former customers to get in contact if concerned. 

It comes as the Federal Watchdog opens an investigation into the data breach, with potential fines of up to $2.2 million. For their take, let’s bring in Education Minister Jason Clare, Deputy Liberal Leader Sussan Ley, good morning to you both. If all the information has been publicly released, then the hackers had no more to gain. Jason, what does this mean for Medibank customers? 

JASON CLARE, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: It’s not over, Dave, because if all of this information is put out there, there’s nothing stopping criminals here in Australia or in other parts of the world from using this information to try to deceive Australian customers and steal their money. That’s why the work that the AFP are doing is so important, as well as our security agencies who are targeting these hackers based in Russia. But it’s also why it’s important that we’ve got people embedded in Medibank working with customers, when they pick up the phone and they talk to Medibank, about how they can protect themselves from all of this. 

KOCH: Sussan, everyone is obviously really nervous and thinking through what sort of information they’ve given to all of these organisations. It highlights the risks of cybercrime in Australia. Has enough been done to stop further data breaches from being as bad? Does regulation have to catch up with reality? 

SUSSAN LEY: Governments and Medibank have to do absolutely everything in the interests of privacy of people whose data has been compromised. I mean, this is just another evil act by these internet thugs and possibly the worst-case scenario, because all of the information has been dumped in one place. And you’re right, Kochy, people will be out there wondering when it might make its way into the light of day. So we just need governments, Medibank, everyone involved in cybersecurity, to redouble their efforts, because for people who might be compromised, this is just truly awful. And the other thing is to make sure that anyone who actually uses, and that means misuses this data, is also punished. 

KOCH: Yeah, and improve our regulations, which are way behind the privacy protections that, for example, operate in Europe. There’s plenty of blueprints overseas that we should be adopting. 

Now, National Cabinet will meet next week to discuss energy prices. The Commonwealth is trying to get Queensland, New South Wales to enforce their own coal price caps. Jason, you’re really getting a revolt amongst the States here. They’re saying you guys should compensate them because they’re going to lose so much in royalties. Why are you passing the problem onto the States? 

CLARE: I wouldn’t describe it like that, Kochy. We’re not going to fix this unless we work together. And that’s why it’s on the agenda for National Cabinet next week. Since the war started earlier this year, we’ve seen worldwide the cost of coal and electricity go up by about 50%. So that’s good for exporters, it means that they’re getting more money, but it’s bad for the price of electricity here at home. And if we’re going to stop that and push those prices down, stop them from getting to what’s forecast, then we’ve got to work with the States here. Look at what sort of regulation you can put in place to stop electricity prices from getting up as high as they are predicted to. 

KOCH: You did promise you’d do this before Christmas. You’ve got to deliver on that. It’s a very emotional topic. 

CLARE: And National Cabinet’s before Christmas. It’s next week. 

KOCH: Okay. All right. Sussan, it is very emotional. In fact, according to the Bureau of Statistics, the average Australian household spends double what they pay on energy, on takeaway food, would you believe? But it’s going to hit the poorest households the hardest, isn’t it? What’s the solution? 

LEY: And that’s the hard part. So, really, Anthony Albanese needs to show leadership on this issue. Stop the spin, stop the blame game, stop diagnosing the problem, which, with respect, Jason has just done some more of – explaining what the problem is. Hey, we all know that, but six months ago, we were told we would have a solution, and we would have a Government that’s working on this, and we just need a Government that gets on with the job, and we need that national leadership. Yes, the States are out there, but it doesn’t look like they’re all working with the Federal Government at the moment. It is chaos. And meanwhile, as you say, Kochy, people on the lowest incomes – what we don’t want to see by next winter is people having to choose between heating and eating.

KOCH: Yeah, like they’re doing in Europe for this, the northern winter. A lot of people will be focusing on that National Cabinet next week, that’s for sure. All right, thanks for joining us. Appreciate your time.