With the Budget only a few days away and so much going on in Parliament and around our Country I wanted to drop a line to tell you about a few things going on in my portfolios and around New Zealand. It's getting colder now with frost on the Parliament Lawn so make sure to wrap up warm!
Cybersecurity is an issue we don't talk about enough and this week in Parliament I made it my duty to highlight the significant lack of support and education the Government currently is offering New Zealand businesses and consumers alike to tackle the threat of Malicious Software, Scam emails and Data breaches on Kiwis. I had the fortune of Speaking in the General Debate on Wednesday and my call to action can be found below. I also fought successfully to have the Economic Development, Science and Innovation Committee undertake a Briefing on Cybersecurity and the live hearing held Thursday morning can be found here.
MELISSA LEE (National): Thank you, Mr Speaker. It is really interesting listening to the speeches that were made by Government members, and it's quite interesting to note that when a Government talks about being kind and nice and, you know, sometimes their characterisation of members opposite are really uncharitable and unkind and quite nasty sometimes. I have to say, I'm rather disappointed in some of the speeches. I won't go into that, but I will actually talk about what this Government is not delivering.
A crisis not talked about by this Government is actually the growing threat of cyber-security in New Zealand. From ransomware attacks on our largest commercial enterprises to scammers stealing money from the bank accounts of elderly New Zealanders, it is something that we must talk about. We must do more to combat the malicious threat of cyber-security to all New Zealanders. As I rise to speak today, members may be aware that, globally, Microsoft, Salesforce, and other major digital platforms are facing significant outages. Certainly, there will be significant questions as to the impact that will have on operations not only to New Zealand but in other countries as well, not just to Government, but also companies, regardless of whether a cyber-security question has actually arisen for New Zealand consumers.
Over the past year, there have been countless examples of failures by our own Crown institutions. One of them happens to be the Reserve Bank. The data breach in January—I mean, the reputational damage internationally was avoidable, and it is shocking that the Governor of the Reserve Bank has failed to take full responsibility for that data breach. The loss, over the summer, of deeply sensitive personal information by parole officers of three dozen individuals, whether victims, witnesses, or offenders alike, is an aberration of the principles of justice. The cyber-security incident at the Health Research Council at a time where our health systems are under the constant strain and threat of the pandemic returning to our shores was not acceptable. More must be done about this. This, in particular, has meant that the very information required for the Health Research Council's annual report was lost, and that actually resulted in the fact that our Parliament was not able to scrutinise them in the annual review process, and that is a shame. That is something that this Government should have made sure that we could have actually done, and it is a failure.
Democracy is directly at risk without robust cyber-security plans. A lack of cyber-protection by any Crown entity is an affront to the taxpayer, an affront to democracy. The reason I say this is because more and more we rely on technology, more and more we rely on the internet, more and more people are doing education, banking, health, all online. Since December, when the House resumed for the 53rd Parliament, I have been constantly agitating and arguing for more accountability and cyber-resilience from the Ministers and institutions. The Ministers opposite, I'm sure, would actually notice at least 650 parliamentary written questions that I have lodged so far on this specific subject matter. But we don't seem to get too many answers, and it seems like the Ministers and Government departments don't seem to be too interested in this subject matter, and yet it impacts on our lives so much so.
We are at a crossroads in history for the security of our cyber border and our data. If the Australian Government and the Prime Minister of Australia can spend $1.6 billion on cyber-security uplift during the pandemic, we could do much better than what we are doing. New Zealand must do better. More money, more education, more resilience is essential. More accountability is vital.
If you, your business or a loved one need help accessing cybersecurity support or education please contact me.
West Melton Connectivity with Nicola Grigg
Last week I joined National MP for Selwyn Nicola Grigg for a conversation with local communities in the electorate about issues facing their connectivity issues. People came from all across the electorate from Halswell Road to Mount Hutt to tell me and Nicola about the shocking state of their internet coverage. Some of these communities are undergoing tremendous growth and it is vital we get them, their households and businesses the digital infrastructure they need to grow the Mid Canterbury Economy. Thank you to Chorus Representative Nathan Beaumont for joining us and facilitating a constructive conversation.
I'm getting out and around New Zealand talking to different communities about the support they need and helping our National Caucus champion your digital needs. If you need support for your connectivity issues, don't hesitate to contact me or your local National Member of Parliament, we are here to help.
As Ramadan ends for another year I want to acknowledge the many Muslim communities around New Zealand who I met with for Iftar and supported as an MP as they commemorated their month of faith and family.
From Eid al-Fitr at Parliament ahead on Monday to the many gatherings I had the honour of joining across our beautiful country I and the entire National Caucus wish Eid Mubarak to all Muslim Kiwis!
NZ on Air funding decisions and Trust in the News
With more than $100million in additional funding committed by this government in different pots to Publicly funded Media serious questions are arising as to transparency and decision making. Last week I took Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi to task over some particularly concerning news that political journalism will now be funded by the taxpayer.
Tune in through the Link below:
I am pleased to introduce you all to my new Auckland based MP Support staffer Tao!
Tao will be working around the community and particularly supporting me in Chinese and wider Ethnic New Zealander Outreach in the Auckland Region.
I've asked Tao to write a few words about himself below:
My name is Tao, I came to New Zealand when I was 17 and I am now 37 with 3 kids. Through my 20 years in New Zealand, I have slowly made this place my second home. Through the years and the jobs I had in accounting, business management and with Ministry of Social Development, I have realised there is no greater honour than contributing to make our home a better place.
This is why I am here and what I am going to be doing: To serve you, the people who call New Zealand home.
So, please do not hesitate to call, email or come and have a chat. I speak fluent English and Mandarin Chinese as well as some Japanese.
Another reminder my Office contact details have changed:
My new Office phone number is 09 520 0538 - if you dial the old one it will re-route either to this one or my Wellington Office.
The new Postal Address for the Auckland Office is PO Box 74271 Greenlane Auckland 1546
As usual you can always send postage free any information to my Wellington Office in Parliament at: Office of Melissa Lee MP, Freepost, Parliament Buildings, Private Bag 18888, Wellington 6160
My Email address at [email protected] remains the same and is regularly monitored.
Alternatively book an appointment to meet with me or Tao at 107 Great South Road, Epsom, Auckland 1051
All the best!
National List MP based in Auckland
Authorised by Melissa Lee Parliament Buildings, Wellington