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New Home Affairs department should prompt review of Australia’s human rights performance

Amy Maguire writes in The Conversation (18.7.17) about the Turnbull Government's new 'Home Affairs' mega-portfolio aimed at consolidating national security and immigration control agencies, arguing that the changes must be monitored to ensure the 'delicate balance' between community safety and personal freedom.

'Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has just announced the creation of a new “super-ministry”, modelled on the UK Home Office. By the end of 2018, Australia will have a new Department of Home Affairs. This change consolidates responsibility for all security agencies within a single portfolio. Peter Dutton, currently immigration minister, will head the proposed department.

'Dutton gains responsibility for the Australian Federal Police from Justice Minister Michael Keenan. He also adds responsibility for ASIO, previously under the portfolio of Attorney-General George Brandis. As home affairs minister, Dutton will retain responsibility for immigration and border protection.

'Announcing the change, Turnbull and Brandis went to considerable effort to note the attorney-general’s continued significance, despite his loss of responsibility for intelligence. Both emphasised that the attorney-general would gain responsibility for some oversight bodies previously within the prime minister’s portfolio.

'According to Turnbull, the new arrangements will ensure stronger oversight of security matters to balance protection for civil liberties and freedoms.'

Peter Dutton becomes national security ministerial tsar in portfolio shake-up

Michelle Grattan writes in The Conversation (18.7.17) about the greatly enlarged Cabinet role of now Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, and what this means both for national security responsibilities and for Dutton's ministerial ranking in the Turnbull Cabinet.

'Peter Dutton will take charge of a new mega Home Affairs portfolio in a sweeping overhaul of national security agencies and responsibilities announced by Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday.

'The reorganisation is a major win for Dutton, a key conservative supporter of Turnbull, and comes despite scepticism from many experts and several ministers about the need for – or desirability of – the change.

'Turnbull said the new Home Affairs portfolio would be similar to the United Kingdom’s Home Office, which he discussed while in London last week. It will include the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the Australian Border Force, and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

'Turnbull stressed the restructuring was his call, after extensive consultation with colleagues. The changes were the most significant security and oversight reforms in four decades, he said.'

 

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