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Howard Government living in the homeland security past.

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Robert McClelland MP Federal Member for Barton Shadow Minister for Homeland Security


8 March 2004

Howard Government living in the homeland security past

Phillip Ruddock’s defence of the current national security infrastructure with a Kim Beazley quote from 1983 proves that when it comes to homeland security the Howard government is living in the past.

The Howard Government may not have noticed but the threat environment faced by Australia has significantly changed in the last 21 years. Labor has adjusted our policies to recognise these new threats, unfortunately the Howard Government has not.

Lack of coordination means that required analysis and action can fall through the cracks of competing agencies. Recent examples include.

• The failure of Australian authorities to effectively respond to two French warnings about Willie Brigitte.

• The inability of the Howard Government to confirm whether United States authorities contacted Australia regarding the presence of Omar Abdi Mohamed in Australia and if so when and who they contacted.

• The failure of the Howard Government to detect the last three consecutive people smuggling boats before they reached Australian territory.

Each of these failures occurred because of a break down in the relationships between the complex patchwork of agencies responsible for Australia’s homeland security. We can’t allow a national security crisis to occur before we reform our management structures.

A Department of Homeland Security will replace the current patch work of part time Ministers with a high powered department answering to a

cabinet level minister, with one job, defending the homeland security of Australia.

The Howard Government may believe that the world has not changed since 1983, Labor does not.

Further information:

Lachlan Harris 0409 119 893