Winter has definitely set in around New Zealand with floods, heavy rain and chill winds sweeping the country, particularly households across Mid Canterbury in Selwyn and my thoughts go out to all those who have had to evacuate their property in recent days due to rising river waters. Please make sure to keep safe, wrap up warm and look after yourselves and your families!
I can't believe that less than a week from raising my deep concerns about our nation's cyber resilience in the House that a massive Ransomware attack was launched on Waikato District Health Board. The effects of the attack are still underway and my thoughts are with the people of the Waikato from Taumaranui to Thames as they deal with delayed surgeries, medical care postponement and forced travel for treatment to other parts of New Zealand.
Last week I wrote my thoughts in a column that I've repeated below:
As I write this, we are entering the second week of the terrifying cyberattack involving ransomware on the Waikato District Health Board’s IT Infrastructure. To put this in perspective the deeply sensitive, private (let alone potentially humiliating) and personal medical records, data and patient files hacked in this malevolent assault on the people of New Zealand, on over 430 thousand New Zealanders, is at risk of being monetised, exploited and marketed on the dark net.
This Government has let this happen.
If you tuned into Parliament TV for the General Debate in the last month you may have noticed I’ve been talking extensively about my concerns for our digital borders and the impact that cyber-attacks, malware, scams and spam have had on our country already in the past year. We saw the confidence shock in our financial institutions with the incidents at the NZX and the Reserve Bank and we’ve had a near unprecedented incident of a Crown Entity, the Health Research Council of New Zealand, being unable to adhere to their democratically mandated duty to report to the House for their Annual Review scrutiny due to the loss of data that took place.
I’ve begged the Government to uplift cybersecurity spending to proportionately match Australia’s $1.6 billion investment into cyber resilience and give Parliament greater insight into the sector.
They haven’t listened.
In Budget 2021 cyber spending is scattered across portfolios. In particular, Vote Business, Science and Innovation, Vote Internal Affairs and Vote Prime Minister and Cabinet (Some may also sit within the Communications Security & Intelligence (GCSB) Vote but we don’t get to know what publicly). When I looked at these votes and the funding being provided I saw no uplifts and, if anything, a significant decrease in support for Government Digital Services and cyber support. In particular the reduction from $55million to $44 million for Government Digital Services on the basis their ‘payroll’ systems were now sorted was ludicrous particularly when I saw Waikato DHB staff were having strife with their pay. There is no true ‘All of Government’ approach to cybersecurity and that needs to change.
The reason I am so concerned about our cyber education is simple; the Internet is our new border and we are at a growing risk of malicious damage to our nation through online actors then we are now through our airports, particularly during COVID times. Millions upon millions is lost out of our economy due to the damage that one email with a virus can contain and we must do more. The State has to take far more responsibility as our democracy, our health and ultimately, our lives are now at risk. It is not hyperbole to say that when clinics and hospitals across the Central North Island are facing one of the greatest crisis our nation has seen.
At the start of this Parliament I called for a Briefing on Cybersecurity to be instated before our Select Committees. It took several months but it finally began a few days ago, I’m hoping in light of the ongoing situation in the Waikato I will get this Briefing extended to more widely address the ramifications of this assault on the health of the Central North Island and I hope my Committee colleagues will support me on this.
Where is the Ministerial accountability? David Clark, the former Health Minister turned Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications, who was asleep at the wheel during COVID-19 is clearly also asleep at the wheel despite being the Minister in charge of cyber security policy. David Clark confirmed to me in Parliamentary Questions neither he nor his officials, which cover cyber security matters, have given any advice towards Cybersecurity or ICT Operations to the DHBs. Here it is again unedited:
What an outrage. Either something is fundamentally wrong in the answer given or his team hasn’t even sent some posters for the offices of our DHBs . I’ve been asking the questions, about 900 cybersecurity specific ones of the 3572 I’ve lodged as of Tuesday. Apparently I’m the most prolific MP so far of this Parliament and that’s not a good thing; it’s ridiculous I have to ask so many questions when this Government is failing to deliver and now our digital borders are being breached near constantly.
Ultimately, this situation goes beyond the Labour Government not doing their job. It is seeing individual New Zealanders being harmed at their most vulnerable being forced to travel the length of the country for medical treatment and with growing anxiety about what unknown hackers know about their personal lives.
My thoughts and the thoughts of the entire National Caucus are with affected families and members of the Waikato Community. We will hold the Government to account for this unacceptable situation.
Our digital frontier is in jeopardy. It’s not good enough. It’s just not good enough.
MELISSA LEE MP
National Member of Parliament
National Spokesperson for – Broadcasting & Media| Digital Economy and Communications | Ethnic Communities
If you, your business or a loved one need help accessing cybersecurity support or education please contact me.
Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre
It was an immense privilege to visit the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre with National Covid-19 Spokesperson Chris Bishop, Shadow Attorney General Chris Penk and National Spokesperson for Immigration Erica Stanford earlier this month.
The Centre is the place for refugees from war torn and vulnerable communities around the globe to get a fresh start here in New Zealand with the opportunity to learn English, acclimatize to Kiwi culture and look to their future.
The team at the Centre are amazingly compassionate and I thank them all for what they do for our newest New Zealanders.
Everest Day, commemorating the achievements by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in submitting Mount Everest (Sagarmāthā/ Chomolungma), was a wonderful afternoon with New Zealand's Nepalese and Sherpa Communities. Joining us for the occasion were Peter and Lady June Hillary as well as Sir Ray Avery, Dr Mark Inglis, Ang Kaji Sherpa & Honorary Consul for Nepal Peter Gibbs as well as Puketapapa Local Board Members Ella Kumar and Fiona Lai.
Some amazing reflections by Peter on the legacy of his father in his efforts to support education and raising living standards in Nepal as well from Dr Inglis who gave us a very colourful account of his own expedition to the summit as a double amputee.
Each sitting week I sit down with a fellow Member of the National Party Caucus to discuss the stories of the day and what's been going on in the House in my Conversation Vlog series.
We cover everything from Free Speech to Immigration to the Budget so make sure to tune in!
Farewell to Thuten Kesang QSM
Last week President of the Auckland Multicultural Society Thuten Kesang passed away after a sudden health illness. Thuten was a pioneer in championing multicultural communities in New Zealand and will be sorely missed by everyone he encountered in his service to others.
His memory will live on in the many cultural functions around the Auckland Region and in the hearts of many.
Office contact details
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
If you recently moved into Mt Albert keep an eye out for a letter from me soon!
National List MP based in Auckland
Authorised by Melissa Lee Parliament Buildings, Wellington
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