Australia’s inaugural Ambassador for Cyber Affairs and Critical Technology Dr Tobias Feakin is stepping down from the role after nearly six years, with the federal government now on the hunt for his replacement.
Dr Feakin has served in the role since it was created in 2017, helping to develop and lead Australia’s whole of government international engagement in cyberspace and in critical technology when the area was added to the role last year.
As part of this work, the government has developed two international engagement strategies to guide Australia’s action in the areas globally, particularly with regional neighbours. The most recent iteration was released last year after a delay from the government.
It is unclear why Dr Feakin is leaving the role, if he is continuing until a replacement is found, or what he will do now.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade declined to elaborate beyond confirming it was his decision.
“Dr Tobias Feakin advised the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade that he does not intend to his renew his non-ongoing employment as Ambassador for Cyber Affairs and Critical Technology. The department subsequently initiated a process to identify a successor,” a spokesperson told InnovationAus.com.
“The department thanks Dr Feakin for his contribution to Australia’s engagement on international cyber affairs and critical technology since 2017.”
Dr Feakin did not provide a comment when contacted on Wednesday.
Prior to his Ambassadorial appointment, Dr Feakin was the Director of National Security Programs at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute from 2012 to 2016 where he established the Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre. Before that, he was Director for National Security and Resilience at the Royal United Services Institute in London between 2006 and 2012.
In his government role, Dr Feakin sought to raise awareness and capacity-building in the Pacific, build stronger cyber relationships across the ASEAN, and assist in the strengthening of cyber “norms of behaviour” globally.
More recently this has been alongside Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs Tim Watts, with the pair offering assistance to Pacific nations battling cyber attacks and offering to help punish the perpetrators.
DFAT this week began the process of finding a replacement for Dr Feakin, posting a job ad for the Senior Executive Service Band 2 level position.
Key duties include leading policy development and implementation, developing advice on cyber and critical technologies, and forging relationships with other agencies, foreign governments and the private sector.
Applications for the role close November 27. The Ambassador will be appointed by Foreign Affairs minister Penny Wong.
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