UK and Australia announce cyber-security partnership

New agreement seeks to thwart 'malign actors' who try to undermine democracy

Britain's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss meets Australian Foreign Minister and Minister for Women Marise Payne. Photo: Liz Truss / Twitter
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The UK and Australia have announced a new partnership to tackle cyber-security threats from "malign actors" who seek to use technology to undermine liberal democracies.

Britain's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss met her Australian counterpart Marise Payne in Sydney this week for wide-ranging talks on issues such as defence, trade and infrastructure investment in the Indo-Pacific.

The talks seek to build on the Aukus defence pact signed last year, which caused controversy after Australia ended a plan to procure diesel-electric submarines from France in a deal worth $90 billion.

Australian Foreign Affairs minister Ms Payne said that the new Cyber and Critical Technology Partnership between the two countries would help to secure an "open and free" internet and "protect liberal democratic values".

"Australia is committed to working with partners such as the UK to challenge malign actors who use technology to undermine freedom and democracy," she said. "We will work with allies to maintain an internet environment that is open, free, peaceful and secure, consistent with international law, and which maximises opportunities for economic growth."

The two countries also announced a new arrangement in which billions will be invested in climate and development infrastructure projects in the Indo-Pacific region.

“The UK and Australia are natural partners, and we are determined to play a positive and proactive role by financing and delivering clean infrastructure that is reliable and honest," Ms Truss said.

She said that the deal will help to strengthen democracy in the region as part of a "network of liberty".

Other topics raised during the talks included steps to tackle violence against women and girls and opening education to more women around the world.

Ms Truss's meeting Down Under comes amid mounting speculation over the future of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson . As one of the most senior members of the Cabinet, Ms Truss is many people's favourite to take the reins of the Conservative Party in parliament.

Britain says it is stepping up its efforts to use private capital to finance major infrastructure projects around the globe, from ports to renewable energy and digital projects.

According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, about £8 billion ($10.89bn) in UK-backed financing a year should be available by 2025.

Updated: January 20, 2022, 10:57 AM
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