Today marks a milestone for Australia – the establishment of the Home Affairs portfolio – the most significant reform of Australia’s domestic security and law enforcement arrangements in decades.
It is an important move to protect Australia’s security and prosperity at a time when nations face a growing number of challenges.
Australia’s security and law enforcement agencies are among the best in the world. The Department of Home Affairs will draw them closer together to counter evolving threats from terrorism, organised crime and the sinister use of new technology.
Too often governments are forced to act in the midst of a crisis or its immediate aftermath. Today the Turnbull Government is moving to protect Australians and their interests in a security environment unimaginable just years ago.
The Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton said the new portfolio was an opportunity to leverage the very best of Australia’s world-class law enforcement and operational agencies.
“The scale and complexity of our challenges are increasing; exacerbated by the evolution of technology and the sophistication with which criminals and terrorists operate,” Mr Dutton said.
“For us to ensure continued successful responses, we require coordination and cooperation across departments, agencies and strong central policy support.
“This is what Home Affairs will do – it will enhance cooperation and coordination on a more enduring basis into the future.”
“I look forward to working with Alan Tudge as Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Angus Taylor as Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security and Alex Hawke as Assistant Minister for Home Affairs to oversee this major reform,” Mr Dutton said.
The new Department of Home Affairs will have responsibility for ensuring a nationally consistent approach to terrorism, cyber security, organised and transnational crime, while securing the integrity of Australia’s migration programmes and protecting our borders by managing the movement of people and goods.
It will be established incrementally over the next six months.
The new Department of Home Affairs will combine the existing Department of Immigration and Border Protection with elements of the existing departments of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Attorney-General, Social Services and Infrastructure and Regional Development.
Drawn under the portfolio will be the Australian Border Force, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Australian Federal Police and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre.
The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) will become part of the Home Affairs portfolio after passage of legislation early next year.
These agencies will remain operationally independent with the Department providing strategic and policy leadership.
The role of the Commonwealth Counter-Terrorism Coordinator will continue under Home Affairs, ensuring a nationally consistent approach to terrorism and close engagement between the Commonwealth, states and territories.
The current Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Cyber Security will become the National Cyber Security Advisor.