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The rumoured plan to create a sprawling ‘Department of Homeland Security’ is dangerous, wasteful and unnecessary, warns human rights group Liberty Victoria.
Fairfax Media reported yesterday that Malcolm Turnbull is considering the creation of a US-style ‘Department of Homeland Security’, to be built around the Immigration Department. The mega-department would swallow up at least half a dozen other agencies, including the Australian Federal Police and ASIO.
Fairfax Media has reported that ASIO and the AFP do not support the move, calling it ‘unnecessary’, given that the current structure operates effectively and efficiently.
Alarmingly, the proposed new department would vest further powers in the Minister for Immigration, currently Peter Dutton.
Liberty Victoria President, Jessie Taylor, stated: “This Minister already wields immense power over the lives of refugees and people seeking asylum. As we have seen, he has the power to separate families, return people to the persecution from which they fled, and deny access to adequate medical treatment when it is most needed.
“The operation of Australia’s border control and detention regime is notorious for its culture of secrecy and militarisation, and disregard for human rights and the rule of law. This proposal would place intrusive and sensitive powers, such as those of ASIO, into the hands of those very same people.
“We should all remember the debacle in August 2015 when Border Force proposed to check people’s visas on the streets of Melbourne. We should also remember that the Department of Immigration was responsible for one of the most significant data security breaches in the history of Australia, inadvertently leaking highly sensitive information about 10,000 people seeking asylum in Australia. Do we really want that same department charged with overseeing ‘homeland security’?
“On top of these alarming risks, there is no evidence that a mega-department would fix existing communication problems between agencies or between governments.
“Worryingly, we now have an Attorney-General in George Brandis who does not appear to consider the rule of law a priority. He must speak out and work to prevent the marginalisation of the Attorney-General’s Department to a mere advisory role to a Homeland Security mega-department”.
Liberty Victoria media contact
Liberty Victoria President, Jessie Taylor or Liberty Victoria Senior Vice-President, Michael Stanton