The announcement yesterday that Australia would be getting a Home Affairs Department, has been described by people both on the left and right of Australia politics as a controversial proposal. Both leftists and libertarians fear the new department could lead us further down the road to a totalitarian big brother state.
Those on the right believe that our current national intelligence and domestic security arrangements are working cohesively already and there is no justification for such a radical shake up. They point to the UK Home Office model as not a shining example of a government body that has protected the people. All criticisms have merit and such a change to our security arrangements deserve proper scrutiny.
There is a lot of suspicion that the decision was not made in the national interest, and was a captain’s pick by Malcolm Turnbull for a number of reasons. First to present strength on national security, second so he could have a major announcement which would leave behind a legacy, and third it was to give Peter Dutton a promotion, who will be the inaugural Home Affairs Minister, to keep him and the conservative wing of the Liberals onside.
The proposed changes see the operations of the Australian Federal Police, Australian Security Intelligence Office and the Australian Border Force come under the one government department along with several other smaller security and law enforcement agencies. It will also establish an Office of National Intelligence responsible for the coordination of Australia’s intelligence effort.
The strongest justification for the changes is that it redefines the role of the Attorney-General as primarily the first law office in the land and leaves the operations of Australia’s law enforcement to a dedicated department. It allows the Attorney-General to be at arm’s length and oversee the operations of Australia’s law enforcement with complete independence, complimented by the role of the Commonwealth Ombudsman. The Attorney-General still must issue warrants for surveillance operations.
It is a risky change no doubt, having one Cabinet Minister solely responsible for law enforcement, national security and intelligence means you must have an extremely capable person in charge of the Home Affairs Department. People’s lives do depend on it. But thankfully Australia will have a capable person to oversee this important change in current immigration Minister Peter Dutton.
Peter Dutton came to the Immigration portfolio in late 2014, and was seen as having been damaged by the Medicare co-payment fiasco and having big shoes to fill after Scott Morrison left the portfolio. Most thought the hard work in immigration was done with the boats being stopped but of course it was naïve to imagine the leftist attempts to undermine our border security would stop. Plus 2015 enhanced the threat posed by Islamic terrorism to the West and further aspects of Islamisation began to rear its ugly head in Australia.
Dutton stepped up to the challenge, even though from September 2015 he was serving under a left wing Prime Minister in Malcolm Turnbull it did not hinder his ability to defend Australia’s border security policy. The left has continued to advocate for all the detainees on Manus Island and Nauru to be bought to Australia, with their provocative slogan ‘FFS Close the Bloody Camps’ which involved them disrupting federal parliament at the end of last year.
Peter Dutton stood firm in face of these tantrums of leftists, despite the media telling him he should listen. Those on Nauru and Manus Island would not be resettled in Australia, not only that but the government later stated they would attempt to pass legislation that those who came to Australia illegally would not be allowed to travel to Australia in the future. He knew that any sign of weakness on behalf of the government would open up the floodgates to the people smugglers and we would be in the same migrant crises Europe was in.
Peter Dutton was also unafraid to tackle the more serious concerns Australians have with immigration, he conceded that Malcolm Fraser made mistakes by letting in Lebanese migrants following that nation’s civil war. He defended Trump’s right to protect his people with his travel ban from eight Muslim nations. He was also not afraid to point out that some of the people coming here were not of good character and were causing disturbances in detention centres. He has deported fake refugees as well stating to do the same to members of the African crime wave currently terrorising Melbourne. No wonder the left has constantly be calling for his resignation.
For those who say that any Coalition Minister can do well in immigration forget that Peter Dutton also has fought the culture wars that exist outside his portfolio. He savaged that business community for their virtue signalling on same sex marriage and hilariously told them to ‘get back to their knitting’. He stated that the firing of Yassmin-Abdel Magied from the ABC was a ‘good start’ to a clean out of the organisation. He also correctly pointed out that Fairfax was going broke because its product was bad.
He is rightly touted as the next Liberal Prime Minister. Although he is a fierce conservative warrior he has also been a team player in the Turnbull Government. Malcolm Turnbull looks unlikely to win the next election and Dutton would certainly be the perfect candidate to regenerate the Liberal Party in a more conservative direction.
But as those who do admire his work in immigration have stated he needs a better test, as they have seen Morrison full to pieces in the Treasury portfolio. Being the inaugural Minister for Home Affairs is the perfect leadership test as he is the sole minister responsible for keeping the nation safe. If he brings the same tenacity to the role as he has in immigration he should be odds on to be the next Liberal leader.
Of course, for this to happen we need Peter Dutton to stay in Parliament, he does not have a safe seat in Dickson which he only holds by a margin of 5.1%. GetUp has launched a campaign to target his seat at the next election to which Peter Dutton has said ‘If GetUp want a fight, they’ll get one’. Nobody should underestimate GetUp’s threat as they successfully removed Sophie Mirabella from her safe rural seat in Victoria in 2013. We hope that the LNP in Queensland put sufficient resources in the next election to ensure a talent like Dutton remains.
His political destiny his in his hands and his record so far indicates he is the perfect politician to take the nation through this difficult transition to a Home Affairs Department, which involves balancing national security, law enforcement and the protection of Australians’ civil liberties.