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One thing is for sure – you can’t accuse the Liberal Party of being a meritocracy

With the news today that Peter Dutton is to head a merged ASIO, AFP and Border Force super security department, it is worth looking back over the last twelve months to see why he deserved this promotion.

June 12, 2016

A recent survey of employees working for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has revealed a department-wide decline in morale.

This shift has been attributed to a damming lack of confidence in both Australian Border Force (ABF) Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg, and what has been described as Mike Pezzullo’s “problematic culture of command and control.”

The report also cites an ongoing shift away from focusing on assisting people, towards a primarily enforcement-based approach, as well as a lack of communication from senior management.

The scathing internal survey was independently conducted by the Nous Group, and found that there was intense staff dissatisfaction with the current “military-style regime” of both their department, and those at the top.

September 25, 2016

A report has been released by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), which severely criticises the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) for its handling of asylum seekers and offshore detention centres.

The DIBP was found to have significantly mishandled multiple areas of the offshore detention system, including welfare, security, catering and cleaning services. The report also identified a Broadspectrum contract with cost overruns of more than $1 billion, which the department entered into without first seeking alternative pricing quotes.

ANAO also found that the department was unable to demonstrate that it had secured adequate value for money in three out of the four hiring processes currently in place at detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island.

JANUARY 17 2017

In a scathing report, the Australian National Audit Office said the Immigration Department had “fallen well short” of expected standards in its management of contracts for detention facilities on Manus Island and Nauru.

Out of $2.3 billion paid over 40 months, $1.1 billion was approved by officers without the appropriate authorisation and another $1.1 billion was paid with “no departmental record” of who had authorised the payments.

Released on Tuesday, the report follows a similarly blistering ANAO audit published in September which identified “serious and persistent deficiencies” in the department’s procurement of garrison support and welfare services for the offshore detention centres.

April 22, 2017

On Friday the government released a report by the Senate committee on legal and constitutional affairs, which followed a seven-month inquiry into allegations of abuse on Manus and Nauru sparked by the publication of the Nauru files.

The report is damning on the government, and among other things, found that Australia has a duty of care to asylum seekers and refugees and that the culture of secrecy and lack of accountability and transparency needs to be addressed.

23 May 2017

Doubts have been raised as to whether Australia’s customs officials have been lawfully accessing people’s text messages and other kinds of data.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman was scathing of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in a review tabled in parliament on Tuesday.

The report follows inspections of 20 agencies and their use of powers to access metadata and stored communications to ensure they are compliant.

It finds Customs does not have sufficient processes in place to prove that it’s only dealing with lawfully accessed stored communications such as SMS.

There are also insufficient procedures in place to ensure that information is properly received and destroyed.

‘We have no confidence in Customs’ record-keeping practices, and therefore in its ability to account for its use of these powers,’ the report says.

JULY 16 2017

US officials interviewing refugees held in an Australian-run offshore detention centre left the facility abruptly, throwing further doubt over a plan to resettle many of the detainees in America.

US officials halted screening interviews and departed the Pacific island of Nauru on Friday, two weeks short of their scheduled timetable and a day after Washington said the United States had reached its annual refugee intake cap with the new intake year not due to begin until October 1.

A State Department spokeswoman said on Friday that USCIS “has not yet concluded adjudications of any refugees being considered for resettlement out of Australian facilities in Nauru and Manus islands.”

One thing is for sure – you can’t accuse the Liberal Party of being a meritocracy. After examining that stellar record, the only conclusion one can draw is that Malcolm has bought off a contender.


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  1. Tracie

    Dutton stuffed up bringing Immigration and Customs together. If it’s agreed that these extra portfolios will be brought under Dutton’s control, then he will have more power than Turnbull. What the hell is wrong with Turnbull? There’s one hell of a rotten egg picture here. It just can’t happen!

  2. wam

    Wow, Kaye, it certainly seems like these bunglers need to be brought under one control.
    I am trying to think who in the LNP would have the ability to take the ministerial responsibility?
    Does marise have influence over defence? Would the dutton rule over the 3 separate bodies????

    Nope, these boys are already indoctrinated, at least as far right as dutton, so it is another clayton diversion.

    So no improvement just more of the same.

  3. susan

    Well done to Turnbull! Another area stuffed, making it a 100% failure rate.

  4. Matters Not

    the only conclusion one can draw is that Malcolm has bought off a contender

    Maybe. But more likely Malcolm has again fed a monster in the vain hope Dutton will now be satisfied. Not likely.

    Just encouraged. He now knows he is driving the bus – with Mal being just a paying passenger.

    The terror stakes are about to be raised again.

  5. diannaart

    Another thing, for sure, placing Peter Dutton in charge, brings any project into suspicion.

    We don’t need more “order” we need better, people focused Law.

  6. helvityni

    I’m with Dr Hewson, Dutton has stuffed up too much already. He also thought that bundling up those three: ASIO, AFP and Border Force, is a bad idea. Agree.

  7. Kronomex

    It’s a horrifying thought that Duncehead will…it’s just horrifying, period!

  8. Kyran

    Whilst your article references the past twelve months, it is noteworthy that he has been in charge of DIBP/ABF since late 2014.
    In that time his, and his departments, list of bungles simply beggars belief.

    The staff pay dispute, which has been ongoing for years now was last reported on in November, 2016, when it was going for a Directions Hearing.

    Ironically, his department hands out more medals than the ADF (at a cost of $1.3mill).

    In April 2015, ABF signed with IBM to use the US hosted Watson platform, an AI platform used to analyse ‘random’ entries. Cost not disclosed.

    He signed with IBM to handle the integration of the computers of Customs and Immigration (at a cost of $500mill) which was last reported as failing to meet its targets in October 2016. It must be secret, because there have been no reports of the integration being completed.

    In August 2015, an ABF operation in Melbourne was shut down when the practicality and legality were questioned.

    On a personal level, his judgement is, at best, questionable. The attacks on Ms Triggs and members of the AAT, at a personal level, to distract from his ignorance of law and due process have to be remembered.
    His vilification of Ms Triggs whilst ignoring the content of the report that was produced is simply incomprehensible.
    The AAT overturned 39% of 11,300 visa decisions. He claimed their decisions were ‘political’ and has sought to remove any such legal oversight of his decisions.
    He has overseen more than 20 cases where his department settled before the matters got to court. Most famously and recently, $70mill plus, to avoid scrutiny of the Manus arrangement.
    He has lied about events on both Manus and Nauru on too many occasions to detail here.
    Ms Grattan wrote a piece a week ago foreshadowing this.


    Her summary seems to be this is a political exercise, devoid of any other merit. The only difficulty she suggests is that this may have to wait until a full cabinet shuffle, probably later in the year.
    That’s before you make any reference to the number of stupid and offensive comments he has made.
    No compelling argument for such a department has been put. Even if there was the slightest chance of creating such a department, Dutton? Really? A well documented incompetent, a well documented liar, a ‘person’ of questionable intelligence and bugger all judgement.
    Thank you Ms Lee and commenters. Take care

  9. Percy

    Question if a Voting Australian was to ASSASSINATE him would that come under ASSASSINATION ESPIONAGE or TERRORISM ????????????

  10. Trevor Vivian

    Abbott’s para military Border Farce is to be controlled by an ex Qld cop whose training by Australia’s leading sexist, Racist & homophobic police force from Qld begins the realisation that Australia is to be controlled by criminals who will do the bidding of their criminal corporate funders with no regard to Australia fair.

    With the raising of Dutton, the minister for verbalising everybody, to his newly acquired lofty heights reminds of the dangerous days of Qld before Fitzgerald.

    Australia is now in peril, peril that has until now only infected the States. With no ICAC and a paramilitary under the rule of Dutton with no oversight by Parliament welcome to the nightmare that has been coming since Less than 30% of voters elected the Liberals to Govt.

    People make excuses about Australia’s gerrymandered shitstem, claiming that its all ok. But I contend most strongly that all is not ok, in fact this disaster that is forming with Turnbullshit and Dutton slicing and dicing is borne from a particularly undemocratic experiment that is now 2 centuries in the making.

    Folks are trying to get changes to allow for a truly democratic system for voting, but unfortunately the circumstance shows we might as well whistle Dixie until the cows come home as Australia’s quaint laws of Parliament show that no change is possible unless politicians agree to change.

    Maybe the coming disaster will force Australia to overturn the appalling 2party preferred shitstem of Parliamentary representation.

    Until then, strap yourself in for a ride that includes being challenged on your right to be Australian when you return to Australia from overseas travel, be challenged as to your character if you have ever been arrested let alone convicted as to whether you can be determined not Australian and then sent to a gulag in the Pacific.

    The future is not what you believed unless of course you don’t stand for anything, then there is a possibility you may just fit in to the new improved version of Duttons Australia.

    Fck Turnbull, Abbott, Dutton, and Brandis and fck you all who voted for these pricks.

  11. Michael Fairweather

    The suggestion that Turdbull wants troops on the streets is a terrifying idea, if he gets his troops then his dictatorship will be complete, and as for Dutton I have seen no indication that this man is capable of running a piss up in a brewery, let alone two or more important departments.

  12. Wayne Turner

    Abbott becoming the Liberal party leader,showed it’s the party of idiots rising to the top. Dutton is both a moron,and a dickhead.It’s NoBalls giving him more power,to appease the ultra right.

  13. Frank Smith

    Maybe Morriscum will head back over to the new Super Department. After all it was he who was pushing for it before the rAbbott decided he needed a “softer” image and moved him out of Immigration and Border Control. Besides, MotorMouth Morriscum has done a woeful job as Treasurer and he so loves the secrecy that “on water matters” provides.

  14. anon-e-mouse

    I like that the staff are upset that their departments are too focussed on enforcement and not focussed enough on assisting people. That says to me that we have plenty of good people in these departments, it’s just that the current leadership is poor. Leadership is not that hard to replace, replacing or retraining all the staff in a gov department is borderline impossible.

  15. paulwalter

    Dry headliner…piquant.

  16. Kaye Lee

    20 Jun 2017

    A report by the RAND Corporation, commissioned by the DIBP last year, warned creating a single culture was the biggest challenge facing the department.

    “The challenges of integrating two organisations with long, proud histories of service and two very different entrenched cultures were underestimated,” the report said.

    “Building a single culture and solving the personnel issues remains a work in progress.”

    Community and Public Sector Union secretary Nadine Flood said the poor results were not a surprise.

    “The department has alienated and devalued staff who deserve better — these people are at the front line policing our borders and working in our immigration system,” she told the ABC.

    “There’s no doubt that merging Immigration and what was Customs has created some issues, but that alone doesn’t go close to explaining how morale has collapsed so low. Chief among the other factors at play has been the contemptuous attitude that DIBP bosses have shown towards staff, whether in bargaining or attitudes in the merger and creation of Border Force.”


    And now they are going to throw in the AFP and ASIO. Gee that should work well.

  17. Kaye Lee

    July 15, 2017

    Mr Quaedvlieg was obliged to take personal leave following an allegation he had helped a junior staff member, with whom he was in a relationship, obtain a job at Sydney Airport. (He says she got the job on merit and that this “unwarranted scrutiny” is causing “distress to my family and loved ones” – he also “vows to return to the top job”)

    Within days of Mr Quaedvlieg’s situation being made public, news broke that a second senior officer, assistant commissioner Peter Docwra, was being investigated over similar claims.

    The precise allegations against Mr Docwra are not clear, although it was reported he was also being investigated over claims he had an inappropriate relationship. (Unlike Quaedvlieg, he quit)

    The article also suggests that the Australian Crime Commission and ­AUSTRAC might be bundled into the new super portfolio

    “It is also desperately unpop­ular among the agencies, who would have to devote scarce ­resources and manpower to reconfig­uring their internal workings at a time when the threat of Islamic State terrorism has sapped their capabilities.”


  18. Kaye Lee

    “The shake up comes despite some push-back from the defence, intelligence and security establishment”

    So much for consultation

    Dutton, who was a hopeless failure at health and whose current department has been the subject of scathing criticism from every quarter, will now be in charge of ASIO, the AFP, the ABF, as well as the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, AUSTRAC and the office of transport security.

    There is also some talk of appointing Mike Pezzullo to be new secretary of the Defence department – “it would not only fulfil his long-time ambition but enable him to leave behind some of the animosity that the immigration post has brought him.”

    Oh good. Let’s have him and Dutton piss off defence instead.

  19. Freethinker

    “They” want him there because he is ruthless, heartless and from the extreme right.
    IMO he is only the face of a group of people with and ideology that will never have experience here in Australia.

    What it is the reaction of the ALP about this, what Bill has to say?

  20. Kaye Lee

    Labor frontbencher, Senator Katy Gallagher, says the opposition is prepared to work with the government in the national interest.

    “We expect any changes to be based on the recommendations of our security agencies — we want to hear what the experts have to say.”

    A 2015 review of Australia’s counter-terrorism machinery found a super agency “would likely be less, not more, responsive as large agencies tend to be less agile, less adaptable and more inward looking than smaller departments”.

    The government has received the report of another review, conducted by former senior public servants Michael L’Estrange and Stephen Merchant, but is yet to release its findings.


    The review, conducted by former senior public servants Michael L’Estrange and Stephen Merchant, is also understood not to recommend a super-portfolio.


  21. paulwalter

    Kaye Lee, 1034. So THAT is what all that was about, such a refreshing change from the dishonesty of MSM this site is.

    Your article is the article many broadsheet journalists would have loved to have written but no longer dare to, the sort of thing that might have made it to Fairfax once or the Grauniad more recently.

  22. jimhaz

    I note that the UK system failed miserably when it came to Muslim rape gangs.


    LONDON — Some scandals are so massive that they’re simply hard to believe. As many as one million white English children may have been the victims of Muslim rape gangs, better known as grooming gangs, in towns up and down Great Britain.

    Policy analyst George Igler says, “When you encounter an issue that is just so unbelievable, just so outside your frame of reference and understanding, the immediate human reaction is just one to not believe it at all.”

    Perhaps even harder to believe is that while there have been prosecutions, the British government has still not stopped this criminal activity.

  23. Frank Smith

    The comments on the Guardian story about Dutton’s Super Ministry have gone ballistic in the past 90 minutes. Can’t see a lot of support among the 900 posts so far.

  24. Kyran

    Indeed, Ms Lee, Dutton has form on consultation as well. Remember the 457 visa bungles? My bad. Changes?

    “In a letter sent on Thursday to the Australian Industry Group chief executive, Innes Willox, who chairs the council, Kearney also set out the union movement’s substantive objections to the new scheme, which it believes fails to crack down on rorts and the exploitation of workers.
    Kearney said the changes had not been discussed at the council and she had concluded it was therefore “an ineffective body that has been ignored by the government and our recommendations have become irrelevant”.”

    “On Tuesday when the temporary work visa changes were announced, the immigration minister, Peter Dutton, said the government had “had some discussions with employer groups” about the changes.
    Asked about consultation, Dutton claimed the changes “come off the back” of the John Azarias review and the government had “picked up many of the recommendations that he made in that review”.”


    Ok, that was back in April. The reports since then suggest that dutton cocked it up. Again. And that he lied about consultation. Again.

    It seems only fair to query where talcum is getting his advice from. With regard to defence, from an article last Friday;
    “More than two months have passed since widely respected and long-serving bureaucrat Dennis Richardson stepped down as Defence Department secretary, and there is growing anticipation in military ranks over who will replace him.”
    Now, bearing in mind such a position has been vacant for two months and talcum has decided to give the military permission to act on Australian soil in a military function, who did he talk to?
    “However Mr Turnbull is understood to be underwhelmed by current options in the public service and keen to find someone with private sector experience.
    The ABC can reveal he has recently turned to former Rio Tinto managing director and current Cricket Australia chairman David Peever for guidance.””


    Of course! Peever knows all about confronting things. Ask any Australian cricket player. My bad, you can’t. They are all out of contract, so we don’t actually have any. Also in that article are some interesting tit-bits on the (then) proposed Super Department.

    Anyway, now that the government has confirmed it will proceed with the Super Department, to be headed by Super Spud, you may be interested on some of the history of this concept. It’s been around a while, after all.

    “Every few years since the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, a proposal to establish some sort of Australian homeland security department has been put forward as part of the national security policy of either the Liberal/National Coalition or the Australian Labor Party (ALP).”

    Now this may come as a shock to you. Back in 2007/8, the proposal was being made by Rudd. The ‘shocking’ part is what the then leader of the opposition said when the plan was scotched.

    “In response to Prime Minister Rudd’s National Security Statement, Malcolm Turnbull, then Opposition Leader, commented in Parliament on Labor’s decision to abandon its proposal for a homeland security department:
    … we note that the Labor Party has abandoned its election pledge to create a department of homeland security. This is one broken promise for which we can all be very thankful. It was a very poorly conceived idea—a cheap copy of an American experiment. It was crafted more to capture campaign headlines than as a serious public policy reform.

    So that was to be the template for a Rudd revolution to overhaul in its entirety our national security establishment. According to Labor’s critique, the coalition had been putting Australians in harm’s way by allowing each of our security agencies to operate within its own area of specialisation. Labor’s answer was to bring it all into one gigantic superbureaucracy, and today the Prime Minister himself has exposed that proposition as the hoax it always was. The truth of it is that what Labor was proposing was a wasteful and costly exercise in bureaucracy. It would have meant reinventing well-established patterns of cooperation and coordination between our key security agencies and confusing and complicating the existing practice of reporting lines within and between those agencies.
    So it is welcome that the Prime Minister is prepared to jettison one of the key planks—possibly the key plank —of the national security policy he took to the last election. For this we can thank the sound, determined and intelligent advice of our professionals in the field. The Prime Minister was strongly advised as far back as July, in the report by the former Secretary of the Department of Defence Mr Ric Smith, that he should not go ahead with his plans for this Rudd security revolution. It took the Prime Minister a long time to swallow this particular medicine, but the fact that he has now agreed to the unceremonious dumping of this centrepiece of Labor’s national security policy is a victory for common sense.”


    If you have the intestinal fortitude to read the rest of the post, it merely confirms that Dutton has lied in relation to this matter as well.
    So, dutton lied and talcum has reversed his position. Quelle surprise. All because we need to be afraid of bad drivers, kids with knives and deranged imbeciles.
    Thank goodness we are more rational when discussing the response to deaths, injuries and injustices suffered by those enduring DV. My bad. We’re not.
    Thanks again. Take care. That van should be arriving soon.

  25. will

    Don’t fear we have a not so secret weapon. He’s called Shaun mc cailif. And he’s brilliant .

  26. helvityni

    Yes will, so pleased Shaun Micallef is back, if anything he’s even better than the last season. He also has very good comedians working with him, top show if you ask me me.. 🙂

  27. diannaart

    Considering what Turnbull will do to achieve/retain power, from Gordon Grech/Utegate, gifting a handy $1.7 million to Lib’s election campaign, to gift-wrapping a position of considerable power to one of the Libs right-wingers, Mr Potato Head AKA Peter Dutton.

    Given what we DO know Turnbull has done to climb the political pole, what has he done that we don’t know about?

    I guess the idea of governing FOR the nation is just quaint and old-fashioned wishful thinking on my part.

  28. Terry2

    Alan Austin in the Crikey newsletter did an interesting and worrying review of the abysmal handling of the Australian economy by this government.

    What struck me as particularly concerning is the way that corporate tax collections are going down yet personal income tax collection, even with wages stagnating, is increasing. He notes :

    While company tax collections are declining, taxes on workers’ wages are increasing. In 2015, tax receipts from wage and salary earners were $177.0 billion, or 50.4% of total tax receipts. In 2017, tax receipts from wage and salary earners were up to $194.0 billion, or 51.5% of total tax receipts. Company tax declined from 19.4% to 18.0%.

    This is precisely what economists have been forecasting as we chase company taxes down the rabbit hole of keeping our economy competitive : at the end of the day somebody has to pay for government services and you can bet that business doesn’t see it as its responsibility so just slug the wage and salary earners.

  29. Kaye Lee

    When Turnbull challenged for the leadership he said “We need to restore traditional Cabinet government. There must be an end to policy on the run and captain’s calls. We need to be truly consultative with colleagues, members of Parliament, senators and the wider public.”

    This super portfolio is a captain’s pick with no consultation and against the recommendations of two reviews and all of the department heads involved.

  30. helvityni

    What’s new. Kaye Lee; a pocket- full of policies for overseas, totally different for home consumption…captain’s calls bad if Abbott’s making, wonderful when coming from Mal himself….

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