An under-the-radar public servant most recently working a senior cyber role at the Department of Home Affairs has been named as Australia’s next Ambassador for Cyber Affairs and Critical Technology.
Brendan Dowling takes over the role from Dr Tobias Feakin, who served for six years as Australia’s first ever Ambassador for Cyber Affairs since January 2017. The appointment was announced by Foreign Minister Penny Wong on Thursday afternoon.
Mr Dowling takes on the role at a critical time for Australia, with dramatically increased diplomatic activity in cybersecurity and critical technologies through international forums like The Quad relationship between Australian, the US, Japan and India, as well as the AUKUS tripartite technology sharing arrangement with the US and UK.
The appointment also comes amid heightened geostrategic competition, where supply chains – including information supply chains – are being rapidly reconfigured.
“Australia’s Ambassador for Cyber Affairs and Critical Technology leads Australia’s international engagement on cyber affairs and critical technology issues, while delivering cyber capacity building, crisis response and resilience across our region,” the Foreign Minister said in a statement.
“Cyberspace and critical technology is vital to international relations, including national security and international peace and stability, sustainable development, and the protection and realisation of human rights and freedoms.”
Mr Dowling has had a distinguished career in cyber affairs, most recently serving as First Assistant Secretary for the Cyber and Critical Technology Coordination Centre within Home Affairs.
Mr Dowling has also served in a senior role in the Australian embassy in the United States.
In his role as Ambassador, Mr Dowling will play a key role in the development of the nation’s 2023-2030 Cyber Security Strategy, which aims to enhance Australia’s role as a trusted and influential cyber leader in the world.
“The strategy recognises that a whole-of-nation approach to cyber is required and that cyber affairs are an integral element of Australia’s foreign and strategic policy,” Ms Wong said.
The outgoing Ambassador Tobias Feakin had spent a great deal of energy during his capacity-building in the Pacific, and building stronger cyber relationships across the ASEAN, as well as assisting in the strengthening of cyber “norms of behaviour” globally.
The Foreign Minister on Thursday also announced the appointment of Richard Feakes as Australia’s next Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism.
The Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism leads international engagement on counter-terrorism issues, including at international forums, and works closely with domestic agencies on counter-terrorism issues.
Mr Feakes is a career diplomat with extensive counter terrorism experience.
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