Australia's new security 'super ministry': Why does Dutton need so much power?

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The boys in blue... ties... that bind (Image screenshot ABC video)

On top of his existing portfolios of Immigration, Customs and Border Force, Peter Dutton is soon to also control ASIO, the AFP, the Criminal Intelligence Commission and AUSTRAC. Why does one department need such immense, centralised power? Kellie Tranter is trying to find out — and you can help!

ON 18 JULY 2017, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull fronted the media with SAS soldiers to announce that Australia will have a new Home Affairs Department, which will combine the domestic spy agency, the Federal Police, and Customs and Immigration departments into one office headed by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.

The new "super ministry" will give Minister Dutton oversight powers over ASIO, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Border Force, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and AUSTRAC.

Former President of the Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs, has expressed concerns that the new super Ministry of Home Affairs was part of a hastening trend towards centralised and unchallengeable government power, and was a very serious incursion into the separation of powers — the power of the judiciary to make judgments independent of the executive and legislature.

And, as you can see from the following ABC TV news report, many other prominent Australians – including many involved in the security or diplomatic services – have also objected to, or expressed grave reservations about, this controversial plan:

I agree with them. That's why we need to have a closer look at why the Government decided effectively to consolidate these already dangerously powerful entities and why it has chosen to go about it in the way it has.

Of course, the Government isn't going to come out and frankly and fully explain its position, so we need to turn up and analyse as much objective material and inside information as we can to work that out for ourselves.

Consequently, I’ve issued a series of FOI requests.

FOI requests issued

Department of Defence

Documents between any one or more of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Department of Defence and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Department of Defence that came into existence between 1 June 2017 and 1 August 2017 relating to the proposed plans for the Australian Defence Force to act against domestic terrorist threats when called in to do so by State and/or territory governments.

This request has identified approximately 400 pages and is due on 25 October 2017.

Prime Minister & Cabinet

Documents, emails, discussion papers, submissions, correspondence and cables that came into existence between 1 June 2017 and 18 July 2017 relating to the proposed plans for the Australian Defence Force to act against domestic terror threats when called in to do so by state and/or territory governments. 

This request is due on 18 October 2017.

How you can help

This is where you come in. I expect these requests to cost about $1,500, which is far too steep for my non-existent budget.

Please help me to try and shed some light on the back story that lurks beneath the announcement of such a powerful new department by donating to our crowdfunding campaign (via Pozible) HERE.

Thank you so much for your support.

Kellie Tranter is an investigative journalist, lawyer, human rights activist and the bane of secretive governments. You can follow Kellie on Twitter @KellieTranter

See Kellie's latest exposé on IA below:

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