Does Australia need a Homeland Security Department?

Dr John Coyne, from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, talks  about Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to deploy the Australian Defence Force in response to terrorism

Introduction: Does Australia need a Homeland Security Department?

Ross Greenwood:  Let’s start the program this evening talking about moves inside the federal government to create a new super ministry. This is said to be called a new Homeland Security Department. Now this particular department will emulate what’s been in the United Kingdom for a very long time. Now the first duty of government according to the home officer site in the UK is to keep citizens safe and the country secure. The Home Office in the UK has been at the front line of this endeavor since 1782. As such the Home Office plays a fundamental role in the security and economic prosperity of the UK.

Here are the responsibilities of the Home Office in the UK. It’s the lead government department for immigration and passports, drugs policy, crime, fire, counter-terrorism, and police. Their responsibilities are: working on problems caused by illegal drug use, shaping the alcohol strategy policy and licensing conditions, keeping the UK safe from the threat of terrorism, reducing and preventing crime and ensuring people feel safe in their homes and communities, securing the UK border and controlling immigration, considering applications to enter and stay in the UK, issuing passports and visas, supporting visible responsible and accountable policing by empowering the public and freeing up police to fight crime and fire prevention and rescue.

Let’s get on Dr. John Coyne who is the senior analyst with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. John, can you just tell me, and thanks for your time, does Australia need one of these super agencies as the UK Home Office is as I’ve described?

Interview: Dr John Coyne, Senior Analyst, Australian Strategic Policy Institute

Dr. John Coyne: Look, it’s a technical question and I’m not weasel words with it but it’s — the fact is that on the counter-terrorism side and on the border side, we’re seing significant improvement. Counter-terrorism in general, we can turn around and say the success that we’ve seen Australia disrupting various attacks have been — has shown that there’s probably not a need on that front to make changes. However, when it comes to Transnational and Serious Organized Crime and this will interest many of the people. your listeners and people who follow you which is when it comes to things like financial crime, et cetera in Australia, and organized financial crime, we’re not doing as well.

For instance, there’s five intelligence fusion centres across the Commonwealth government dealing with organized crime that share intelligence with the same intelligence on organized crime. There’s a lot of repetition across government.

Ross Greenwood:  in regards to the suggestion of Peter Dutton the Immigration Minister will end up as the head of this new Homeland Security Department. That clearly would be a political advancement for Peter Dutton but you can understand the sense of it in some ways by bringing visas, by bringing border control, by bringing terrorism and also licensing and so forth under the one portfolio. Much of this was recommended by the coroner coming out of the Lindt Cafe siege inquiry and about where the responsibility lay for much of the planning of the of the defence of those people. This is where it all basically stems from Australia’s point of view.

Dr John Coyne: Well, look, that’s exactly right but putting it together now Transnational and Serious Organized Crime, all these things that we’re talking about. At the moment, we have a series of junior ministers one in particular and that is in this case Minister Keenan and who’s the justice minister, who’s a junior minister in cabinet not a full member of the National Security Committee. Now what that means though is that these things that impact on us on our communities every day, these other things like drugs, like fraud, money laundering et cetera, Transnational and Serious Organized Crime don’t bubble to the surface in a same way to be treated by government.

I think having — and you’re putting Mr. Dutton aside for a moment but having a central policy, a minister who’s a senior minister taking responsibility for these things that affect our day to day life is important.

Ross Greenwood:  Therefore, that being the case, Australians are — the bottom line is whether A, Australians are better governed and B, whether Australians feel safer as a result of having that style of ministry and whether they actually notice the difference at all anyway.

Dr John Coyne: Well, we would hope that they would notice the difference. Now, let me give you some examples from this case. I think number one this that how a bit of this strategy and policy that big-ticket commanding issues at the governmental level. At the moment, our police forces and border agencies are seizing more drugs that they have ever done before. It’s our business there is phenomenal growth in seizing drugs and locking up bad guys. The downside, of course and the economics of this are that drugs remain easy to very easy to get in our community. The prices are going down not up which all lead to an indicator that on — based on that there’s actually more drugs in these communities than ever.

We can keep on doing the same things and this one’s other domestic security or homeland security issues or we can look for new policy initiatives. Look, they — and the courts out or the jury’s out at the moment about whether or not super departments work but what can be said is that in the example of the Australian Border Force and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, there’s been significant changes in policy. A significant improvement in border security and for those of your listeners who travel through Sydney and Melbourne International Airport, it’s never been faster to get in and out of Australia than ever before but it’s still just as secure.

Ross Greenwood:  Can I tell you John Coyne, appreciate your time. Dr. John Coyne is a senior analyst with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. I can say one thing about the passports. I know that they’re more efficient with those new tags in them and you can go through and do the e-Passport. I just wish mine would work, I really do. It’s one of my great frustrations that I have to line up every single time because my e-Passport does not work. By the way, if anybody can tell me, how do you fix your e-Passport if it doesn’t work? Because they issue on for 10 years so it’s a complete pain. John, I sidetrack there. Thank you so much for your time.

Dr John Coyne: No, thank you.

Other previously published articles highlighting security.

18-07-2017 Do we need a Home Affairs portfolio?

17-07-2017 Does Australia need a Homeland Security Department?

28-06-2017 Global ransomware attack

31-05-2017 Tackling Cyber Security – Dan Tehan

15-05-2017 Worldwide Cyber attack – Alastair MacGibbon

08-05-2017 Money Minute – May 8 2017 Smart Banking

29-03-2017 Cracking The U.S Market – Nicola Watkinson

08-03-2017 Wikileaks reveals CIA hacking capacity

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