A SINGLE, super frontline agency to police Australia’s borders will be set up, taking over the role of Customs, as the Coalition positions for the next phase of protecting Australia’s economic gateways from transnational crime.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison will today unveil plans, to be detailed in Tuesday’s budget, to establish the Australian Border Force, which will have responsibility from mid-next year for enforcing all Customs and immigration laws.
The Australian Border Force, which will be set up as part of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, will be led by a commissioner reporting directly to Mr Morrison.
It will take over the work of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, which will cease to exist from July next year.
A few red flags caught my eye.
The name – the Australian Border Force. Really? These days bureaucratic speech would have provided a name like “Borders Australia”. This kind of “strong man” politics just looks ugly.
The structure – led by a commissioner reporting directly to Mr Morrison. I reckon he tried to get a serving military officer but that was too much for everyone else.
The propaganda – the next phase of protecting Australia’s economic gateways from transnational crime. Wow. Sounds serious. Now I’m happy to believe that criminals make use of transport hubs the same as everyone else, but I’m not convinced that the existing arrangements are inadequate.
The savings – The consolidation of Customs and immigration border operations will deliver “hundreds of millions in savings’’, to be ploughed back into the agency, and could result in job cuts. Yes, well. Time will tell on that point. We’re told, however,
“The creation of the Australian Border Force is about strengthening our borders,’’ he will say. “It is a reform measure, not simply a savings measure.’’
Overall this looks like an empire building exercise. It is not all clear that a standardised, rule-based, bureaucratic process such border control needs to have a politician in charge of it.