Labor’s decision to delay releasing $60 million worth of crucial funding to support the development of Australia’s cyber workforce is inexcusable.

As the nation reels from the Optus cyber hack, the Opposition is calling on Anthony Albanese to unfreeze this critical cyber workforce funding immediately. This funding could have been in place for over five months to train Australia’s cyber workforce.

Given the significant cyber breach millions of Optus users have just suffered on Labor’s watch, Australians deserve to know why the Albanese Government is running interference on initiatives designed to strengthen our cyber workforce and capabilities.

Ed Husic has made a virtue freezing grants across the Industry portfolio and it’s Australians who are poorer for it. Those reviews have stymied funding for cyber workers at the very time they are needed most.

Labor have already been forced to retract unfounded political attacks on other initiatives which supported some of our most critical sectors to boost sovereign capability – and now his failure to support our cyber security industry has left our country weaker.

It’s not good enough to say final decisions on this funding will be “detailed in the October federal budget”, as Ed Husic did today.

The review must end and it must end today.

Every day Labor delays these sorts of initiatives is a day Australia falls further behind the rest of the world. If Labor is secretly cutting critical programs they need to be upfront with the Australian people.

Industry sources have confirmed that these grants were submitted months ago and allocated, but have been in limbo since Labor won government in May.

Guidance on the Cyber Security Skills Partnership Innovation Fund – Round 2 website states:

“The Government is currently reviewing programs to ensure its investments are targeted and aligned with policy priorities. We will contact all applicants regarding the status of your application once the review is complete. In the meantime, please be reminded that under Section 5.2 of the Cyber Security Skills Partnership Innovation Fund Round 2 Grant Opportunity Guidelines, you must not commence your project until you execute a grant agreement with the Commonwealth.”

Labor’s politically motivated review of these grants has left our cyber workforce smaller and less capable than it could have – and should have – been.