The Australian government is reportedly considering a major restructure of its security agencies, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull keen to create a wide-ranging, U.S.-style “Department of Homeland Security.”
Local media reported Turnbull was considering merging up to six departments into one “Department of Homeland Security,” in the same vein as what the United States did with 22 agencies post-September 11.
One government official told Fairfax Media that, under the current system, intelligence data was not shared effectively – something which could be disastrous in the event of an impending terror attack.
“There are data jealousies between agencies, data gaps, a lack of full data sharing,” the official said on Tuesday.
“Cooperation at the moment is ad hoc, episodic and personalized. The only thing that keeps the system functional is personal relationships.”
However, government MPs remained tight-lipped despite the report; Special Minister of State Scott Ryan admitted the government was looking at reviewing its security agencies, but admitted the current arrangement was very effective.
“But it is important to emphasize to everyone how effective our security and intelligence arrangements are at the moment,” Ryan told Sky News on Tuesday
“It is a matter of constant vigilance, but we do have good co-operation and I think it’s important that the specific portfolio minister speaks to further detail on those issues.”
Meanwhile, Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said while the government was “always looking to improve levels of co-ordination between agencies and between levels of government,” the report published in Fairfax Media was simply “speculation.”
“I’m not going to comment,” he said.
Not all MPs are in support of such a move; one minister told Fairfax Media that the same people who “militarized Customs” were trying to “take over” the “entire national security system.”
Later, opposition spokesperson Matt Thistlethwaite told Sky News that Labor had not been briefed about the potential changes, describing them as a “thought bubble” at this point in time. Enditem