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Published: Wed, July 19, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Australia gets Home Affairs office

Australia gets Home Affairs office

The portfolio, modelled on Britain's Home Office, not the Department of Homeland Security in the United States, will include domestic spy agency ASIO, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Border Force and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

The new Office of National Intelligence will co-ordinate intelligence policy and is in line with agencies in Australia's "Five Eyes" intelligence partners in the US, Britain, Canada and New Zealand.

The review concluded that Australia's intelligence agencies were highly capable and staffed by skilled officers but also made many important recommendations to transform these agencies into a world-class intelligence community.

Australia will create a Home Affairs ministry to boost anti-terrorism links between government agencies, in the nation's biggest security shake-up in more than 40 years, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said. "We need a better structure to meet the challenge of the times".

They would also give Mr Dutton responsibility for the agencies "defending, preserving, protecting our national security at home".

The prime minister says it's about safety, not politics.

Labor will be briefed on the L'Estrange review and the Government's announcements.

But the Review does say that the experience of the U.S. and British governments showed that there needed to be better arrangements for building synergies among and between intelligence and security agencies.

The Attorney-General, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection as Minister-designate for Home Affairs, and the Minister for Justice will work with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to develop these plans with a view to their implementation from early 2018.

The new super-ministry, will combine the domestic spy agency, the federal police and customs and immigration departments into one office, and will be headed by current Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.

Asio and the Australian Federal Police will now answer directly to Dutton as home affairs minister. With the Liberal-National coalition trailing in opinion polls, Dutton has been touted by some political analysts as a potential challenger to Turnbull's leadership.

And his promotion confirms - if any further confirmation was needed - that Dutton has eclipsed Morrison as the leading conservative in the Turnbull government.

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