On 4 December, Kevin Rudd released the inaugural National Security Statement outlining “initiatives to improve national security policy advice, coordination and governance.”
Apart from a new role for Customs (to become Australian Customs and Border Protection Service), there are few changes to current arrangments.
The statement included announcement of the appointment of Duncan Lewis as National Security Adviser.
The statement follows a review by Mr Ric Smith, the Homeland and Border Security Review. The purpose of the review was to report on the best and most efficient way to coordinate overall national security arrangements.
The Government accepted Smith’s advice that a new agency was not required. Instead, the new National Security Adviser will provide advice on all policy matters relating to the nation’s security, and will oversee the implementation of all national security policy arrangements.
A National Intelligence and Coordination Committee will also be created to enhance Australia’s national crisis management arrangements. It will have responsibility for foreign, defence, security and law enforcement intelligence.
This statement puts paid to any lingering speculation about creation of a Department of Homeland Security, and the related upheaval that would have occurred in such a change of administrative arrangements. Increased co-ordination and sharing of information has been taking place between the relevant agencies (Customs, Defence, AFP, Immigration, etc) so this announcement appears to confirm the current arrangements will continue.
The only change is a new role for Customs which is set to become the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. It will have expanded powers “to task and analyse intelligence, coordinate surveillance and on-water response, and engage internationally with source and transit countries to comprehensively address and deter people smuggling throughout the operating pipeline from source countries to our shores”.
Details of administrative arrangements are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.