“He is currently on leave. While the matter is under consideration it would be inappropriate to comment further,” the Defence Department said in a statement.
“The welfare of our people remains our priority and it is requested that Air Marshal Goldie’s privacy is respected at this time.”
Ms O’Neil said the Home Affairs Department deputy secretary of Cyber and Infrastructure Security, Hamish Hansford, would act as National Cyber Security Co-ordinator in the interim.
Speaking at The Australian Financial Review Infrastructure Summit this week, Mr Hansford explained how the co-ordinator’s role worked.
“Darren’s key role is to convene in times of a national crisis. So it’s been under his leadership that he’s brought all the forms of government together, including people from my area,” Mr Hansford said.
Air Marshal Goldie this week has been leading the government’s response to the cyberattack on ports operator DP World, including conducting media interviews.
Air Marshal Goldie’s leave comes at an awkward time. The government is poised to release its new cyber strategy as early as next week. The strategy is expected to include requirements for companies to report ransomware demands but it will not ban them from paying cybercriminals to regain control of stolen data.
The government created the co-ordinator role following a spate of cyberattacks including the Optus, Medibank and HWL Ebsworth data breaches. There has been frustration over the lack of an overarching figure who could cut across bureaucracy to lead the government response.
Air Marshal Goldie, a 30-year veteran of the air force, was appointed to the job in July. ”I think the cyber challenge that Australia faces along with the rest of the world is dire,” he said at the time of his appointment.