Just in case you were wondering how the steady march into authoritarianism was going, here’s a wonderful update for you: all of our security agencies are being rolled up under one ministry, headed by slack-jawed fascist Peter Dutton. Joy!
A new federal super-ministry of Home Affairs will be set up, according to an announcement from Malcolm Turnbull, which will include the Australian Federal Police, ASIO and the Australian Border Force.
For clarification, the AFP used to be handled by the Justice Minister, and ASIO used to be looked after by the office of the Attorney-General. So this is a pretty big shift, and brings Australia in line with somewhere like the United Kingdom in terms of the centralisation of security powers.
In his press conference, Turnbull said it was the most “significant reform of Australia’s national intelligence and domestic security arrangements and their oversight in more than 40 years”.
The idea is insanely controversial and has been for ages – ever since Kevin Rudd suggested a similar move back when he was Prime Minister.
National security experts have largely condemned the move, suggesting that handing such immense power to a single Minister is irresponsible, and suggest that it may actually make them less flexible than if they operated independently.
Turnbull tried to assuage fears about this problem by saying it was not similar to the system as it exists in the United States:
Let me be quite clear, this is not a United States-style Department of Homeland Security The agencies will retain their current statutory independence which is such a vital aspect of our Australian system.
There are also suggestions there is a great deal of tension within the government itself about this move – with Sky News reporting months ago that at least one minister anonymously expressed reservations about handing this kind of power to a “fascist like Peter Dutton”. Which is a pretty insane thing to hear from a minister.
An ex-Queensland cop in charge of almost every security agency in the country? What could possibly go wrong?
Photo: Getty Images.