Optus must cover the cost of replacing compromised identity documents, including passports, after a massive data breach at the telco, the government says.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told parliament on Wednesday it shouldn’t fall to taxpayers to help affected customers when it was the telecommunications giant’s fault.

The opposition had been calling for Labor to foot the bill but Liberal senator Linda Reynolds later conceded Optus should pay, while criticising the government’s response to supporting people hurt by the breach.

“The government’s making people pay for (passports) themselves … Optus should be paying, or at least the government,” she said.

“People with their Medicare numbers (leaked) … what protections are the government putting in place?

“These things have been quite slow in response, particularly when looking after the interests of the 10 million Australians” believed to be impacted.

Almost all of the states and territories have announced residents can apply for replacement driver’s licence numbers, after the transport authorities initially said no because a licence number follows a driver for life.


The cost of the exercise is either free or will be paid for by Optus.

Labor MP Peter Khalil, who heads parliament’s intelligence and security committee, said gaps in critical infrastructure and telecommunications laws left by the former government had made the Optus breach possible.

“There are gaps there … The previous government did not switch on the cyber security obligations for telecommunications companies, and that is something we are looking at very, very seriously,” he told the ABC.

“Not only has the door been unlocked, the door has been left wide open, the windows are open and the back door is open.”