Significant measures have been taken to safeguard Australia’s national security since the Home Affairs portfolio was established a year ago.
The new Home Affairs portfolio brought together intelligence, law enforcement, border security, national transport security, emergency management and immigration functions under one umbrella.
The Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton said creation of the portfolio has ensured greater collaboration between key agencies which protect Australians and the nation.
The agencies have continued to target and disrupt terrorists and the potential return of foreign fighters through the loss of their Australian citizenship for several dual citizens.
Home Affairs continues to support Operation Sovereign Borders fight the persistent threat of people smugglers illustrated by several failed ventures over the past year and the return of 27 people from those vessels to their country of origin.
Among the key achievements was the appointment of the Transnational Serious and Organised Crime (TSOC) Coordinator and the development of the TSOC strategy endorsed by COAG recently.
Home Affairs agencies have gained new powers to fight against terrorists, criminals and foreign interference with vital legislation passed to enable them to pursue terrorists and organised crime in the digital era [Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act] and to secure the nation’s important infrastructure [Security of Critical Infrastructure Act].
“Encryption had put the communications of terrorists and criminals beyond the reach of law agencies, but they are now using the measures under the Assistance and Access Act to target and disrupt threats to the Australian community,” Mr Dutton said.
Another important achievement was the establishment of the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation to target online predators and rapidly expanding transnational child exploitation.
Almost $300 million was budgeted to strengthen security at the nation’s airports.
Forty six million travellers were processed at our borders, 16,000 refugees were permanently resettled here and 160,000 migrants made Australia their new home.
Mr Dutton said the establishment of Home Affairs had enabled greater sharing among key agencies and provided the ability to harness expertise more effectively to manage and meet the threats of today’s world – cyber-attacks, terrorism, foreign interference and transnational crime.