Tuesday, 26 September, 2017

Peter Dutton given control of new home affairs super ministry

Cabinet to debate anti-terror overhaul of national security agencies Peter Dutton given control of new home affairs super ministry
Melinda Barton | 18 July, 2017, 10:18

The federal government has announced a sweeping restructure of Australia's national intelligence and security arrangements with the establishment of a new Home Affairs super portfolio.

In response to the ever-changing threat of global and domestic terrorism, Turnbull said the government drew inspiration from Great Britain's Home Office instead of the United States' Department of Homeland Security in forming the new portfolio.

'When it comes to our nation's security, we must stay ahead of the threats against us, ' Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

For Dutton, the new Home Affairs Ministry is confirmation that his star is on the rise.

In an apparent concession to Brandis and to head off criticism about civil liberties, the attorney-general will continue to be the issuer of warrants under the ASIO Act.

As a result, the justice minister will no longer be required to take charge of matters involving the AFP, while the attorney-general will no longer oversee ASIO.

A 2015 review of Australia's counter-terrorism machinery found a super agency "would likely be less, not more, responsive as large agencies tend to be less agile, less adaptable and more inward looking than smaller departments". "But the Attorney-General has many other, pressing responsibilities".

The prime minister says it's about safety, not politics.

"We are taking the best elements of our intelligence and national security community and making them better".

But for Turnbull, promoting Dutton allows him to argue that - contrary to the claims of ministers such as Christopher Pyne - the moderate wing of the party is not in the "winner's circle".

While critics have suggested a reorganisation would risk diverting the agencies' attention while it was happening, Turnbull said: "There will be no reduction in frontline capacity, focus or operational tempo".

Attorney-general George Brandis described Dutton's new role as the chief national security minister within cabinet.

Fast forward to today and Morrison is still paying the price among conservatives for switching his support from Tony Abbott to Malcolm Turnbull.