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Tag Archives: Border Force

Dutton has lost control.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has well and truly lost control of his portfolio. The past year alone provides a rich field of examples of Dutton’s incompetency. There are many instances which highlight the absurdity of his excuses, claims and justifications for the Coalition’s appalling policies. Yet despite a growing list of clear failures, there is a noticeable absence of demands for accountability. Dutton continues his awful attempts to defend the indefensible and the general public laps it up, convinced by the Government’s lies that it is all for the greater good.

Dutton has demonstrated many failures. A man with his level of ineptitude and incompetency in the private sector would have been fired a long time ago. A man in his position in any other institution, would be loudly condemned, and subject to a fiercely independent investigation at a minimum.

The latest in the string of absurdities must be Dutton’s reaction over the recent death of a person under his care and the following riot on Christmas Island. Dutton brushed off the seventh known death of an asylum seeker since early 2014, with little more than a ‘meh’, followed by loud accusations of violent, hardened criminals causing trouble for no reason at all in the remote prison. Not only does Dutton fail to recognise or even faintly appreciate the duty of care he owes to asylum seekers detained under this watch, but he loudly refutes the provable fact that violent criminals, minor offenders and asylum seekers have all been mixed together and none would be there at all if it wasn’t for him and his party’s policies.

The totally preventable death of Fazel Chegeni is the doing of Dutton. The riot, which looks to cost the Australian taxpayer $10 million dollars, on top of the $100 million dollar blowout in the billion dollar cost of offshore detention, is the doing of Dutton.

Dutton is responsible, and in being responsible, must be the most incompetent Immigration Minister since the equally appalling performance of former Minister Scott Morrison.

If Dutton was an employee in any private organisation, he would have been sacked long ago for gross incompetence. If any individual person was paying Dutton’s remuneration, he would have been sacked long ago. Yet the Australian public, every individual tax payer is paying for Dutton, and yet he continues, unchecked, with calculated, deliberate lies to try and cover up his incompetency. And Australia does not hold him to account.

The mysterious death of Fazel Chegeni, a refugee whose body was found after being chased through the Christmas Island jungle by guards, follows other preventable and inexcusable deaths. In October, out of fear of being returned to detention and dying a slow death at Dutton’s hands, Khodayar Amini doused himself in petrol and self-immolated. Leo Seemanpillai did the same last year. Asylum seeker ‘Reza’, fearing deportation on Dutton’s orders, was found dead at Brisbane airport. Earlier, Nasim Najafi was attacked while under Dutton’s care, placed in solitary confinement, and committed suicide.

Dutton is responsible for these deaths. Just like former Minister Scott Morrison was responsible for Reza Barati’s murder on Manus Island, and for Hamid Kehazaei who died from a septicaemia after a treatable infection on his cut foot was ignored.

Dutton holds the power to giving these people hope, freedom and a chance of a life. Dutton refuses.

Dutton, whose actions are slowly killing the people under his care, is doing his best to convince asylum seekers that it is better to return to their own countries and risk death in a warzone, than die a slow and lingering death under his watch. ‘Khaled’, who saw his own father murdered after they both worked as military interpreters for the US, was coerced into returning to the very city he fled from in Iraq. Officials from Dutton’s Department coerced another man, Eyad, to return to Syria, where he was tortured for twenty days by government officers, before finally making it to his home. A short time later he was injured in a shell attack, which killed his father on the spot. Dutton is responsible for this.

If any other person was responsible for so many deaths, so many atrocities, so much harm, they’d be imprisoned themselves. Not Dutton. No, he is being paid by the Australian tax payer to continue his torturous regime.

Who can forget the boatloads of Tamil asylum seekers Dutton returned to Sri Lanka, despite being subject to persecution? And his refusal to help rescue Rohingya refugees stranded at sea? Or the Vietnamese asylum seekers who were returned by Dutton, some of which were arrested and detained immediately on their return to Vietnam?

And of course there is Dutton’s implied admission that his Department paid people smugglers, in a clear breach of international law, backed up by an Amnesty International report finding enough evidence that it happened.

Dutton is determined to continue to expose children to sexual abuse, assault and torture. The Government-commissioned Moss Report, the Forgotten Children Report from the Australian Human Rights Commission, and a Senate Committee Inquiry found that offshore detention is not safe for families and children. Earlier this year Dutton ordered the transfer of a five month old baby, Asha, to Nauru, where her desperate mother is still gravely concerned for her health. Fully qualified, professional Australian doctors have labelled the Government’s treatment of asylum seeker children as torture. Dutton is unrepentant. Instead of addressing the shocking claims, he made it illegal for ‘entrusted people’ to report the abuse, threatening doctors, nurses, councillors and teachers with two years jail.

The Australian tax payer is financing this abhorrent situation. Every Australian is paying for Dutton to put in place laws to incarcerate anyone who tries to hold Dutton to account.

Dutton refused for months to help a woman who had been brutally raped while under his care. Abyan, another refugee who fell pregnant after being raped, was also denied treatment in Australia until a mass public outcry. Dutton, insistently lying to the Australian public and the world about the poor woman’s situation, despite even the Coalition’s biggest supporter, Chris Kenny, backing up her advocates, has not been held to account for his lies. Dutton only acted after a scathing press statement from the United Nations, yet he still insists that denying a traumatised woman access to a counsellor and expert medical care is appropriate treatment.

Dutton deliberately seeks to expose vulnerable men, women and children to further harm.

According to Dutton, pregnant women under his care who request to give birth in Australia are trying to blackmail him, are taking him for a ‘mug’, and are partaking in a racket to get to Australia. According to Dutton, it is acceptable to force women under his care to give birth in a third world hospital on Nauru, where a newborn baby is seven times more likely to die at birth, and the mother is fifty times more likely to die during childbirth. Dutton has ignored medical professionals and the Australian Medical Association who insist Golestan, a diabetic woman, must be immediately flown to Australia to give birth. Golestan is suffering a complex pregnancy, and despite medical staff expecting her baby will require specialist care, Dutton insists on risking the baby’s life. Will Dutton sacrifice the life of an innocent baby in his race to provide crueler conditions than those which the asylum seekers have fled from?

It is not just asylum seekers Dutton treats with loathing and contempt. A freedom of information request by Fairfax media revealed that Dutton deliberately misled the public when he said there was no way his Border Force agents would be doing random spot checks on unsuspecting and law-abiding Melburnians in August this year.

Spooked by a backlash to the press release that Government agents would stop and speak with anyone they came across during Operation Fortitude in Melbourne’s CBD, Dutton’s kneejerk response at the time was to deny all knowledge of such a planned venture.

What kind of Minister thinks it’s acceptable and lawful to expect people to carry, and produce on demand, their ‘papers’ while out shopping on a weekend? What kind of Minister then lies to say it was never planned? Obviously one who mistakenly thought Australia was a police state, or one who is grossly incompetent. Dutton forgets he is an elected representative paid for by the Australian taxpayer to represent the Australian people, not treat the very people who elected him as criminals.

Speaking of taxpayers, voters, and Christmas Island, Dutton demonstrates yet again his inability to tell the truth. Despite deliberately, unrepentantly and viciously detaining and deporting any non-citizens who have suddenly become socially undesirable, no matter how minor their wrong-doing, or the absence of any actual offence at all, Dutton is adamant only the most violent and hardened criminals are subject to section 501 of the Migration Act. Many of these people have lived in Australia for their entire lives. They have voted in elections. Many have paid their taxes and contributed positively to the community for decades. They have families, wives, husbands, partners, siblings, parents and children in Australia.

According to Dutton, a decorated New Zealand soldier, Ngati Kanohi Haapu, known as Ko, must be banished forever, despite having no criminal convictions whatsoever. Ko’s ‘character issue’ is that he is allegedly a member of a one percent motorcycle club. Despite no motorcycle club being proven to be a criminal organisation, and police and law enforcement agencies being unable to produce sufficient evidence of such, Ko has been detained and set for deportation.

Ko has committed no crime. Not like Dutton, who has paid people smugglers, enabled and condoned child abuse, rape, and torture, and is responsible for at least five of the seven known deaths of asylum seekers.

According to Dutton, a New Zealand born mother of six, who has served her time for minor drug offences is a violent, hardened criminal. If this woman had been born in Australia she would serve her time and move on with her life. But no, according to Dutton, she must be banished from Australia, despite serving her sentence, because a faceless bureaucrat has applied a mandatory provision enacted on Dutton’s command, that she be deported.

According to Dutton, a single mother of two, charged with shoplifting is such a threat to the Australian public, she should be incarcerated, away from her young child and teen daughter – banished forever from Australia, because of Dutton. There is no such thing as rehabilitation or having ‘done one’s time’ under Dutton’s watch.

According to Dutton, a quadriplegic man, who served time for self-medicating with painkillers, is such a threat to the Australian public, he must be deported, never to return to the land he called home.

According to Dutton, a British man, who has lived in Australia for fifty of his fifty-one years, who in a moment of stupidity lit a scrub fire in which no people or property were harmed, is a violent and hardened criminal. Because according to Dutton, only violent and hardened criminals are being held on Christmas Island.

Where are the cries for Dutton’s resignation? Why is the Opposition silent? Why is Bill Shorten not calling for Dutton to stand down or be sacked? Why is the mainstream media not demanding more answers?

No person in anything other than a criminal organisation, a fascist, police state or dictatorship would get away with such criminal behaviour, and wilful and deliberate lies to the domestic and international community.

How many more families will be ripped apart by Dutton’s arbitrarily applied laws? How many more people must die a violent, painful and preventable death under Dutton’s watch? How many innocent children will lose their parents, and how many parents will lose their children at Dutton’s hands? The Government and the weak opposition, the detention centre contractors, and all the faceless bureaucrats, are complicit in the deaths, torture, and inhumane treatment of people under Australia’s care. Every Australian who does not make a stand against the cruel regime, is complicit.

Enough is enough. Rape, murder, suicide, torture, child abuse, violent assaults, death from medical neglect, and wilful destruction of families is all in a day’s work with Dutton in charge. And every Australian is paying for it.

 

Reward for achievement?

When Peter Dutton, at age 30, was elected to Federal Parliament in 2001, he said “it brought to a climax a lifetime of hard work and a focus on achieving the goal of standing proudly in this place today.”

This “lifetime of hard work” included starting work in the family business when he started high school, joining the Young Liberals at age 18, which was when he bought his first property, working for 9 years in the police force while also being listed, from age 23, as a company director for his father’s business, then quitting the police in 1999 to ‘work fulltime’ with his father for a year or so while he campaigned to enter politics.

Dutton said that the Liberal Party was “a party of natural choice” for him because it was a party founded on “the principles of individualism and reward for achievement.”

Which begs the question of why, after being voted the worst Health Minister in 35 years, Dutton retains his position in Cabinet. One letter published in the Australian Doctor said “Dutton will be remembered as the dullest, least innovative and most gullible.”

Recently, George Brandis launched Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations human rights council (UNHRC), stating that “Across the entire panoply of human rights Australia has not only been an activist, but those rights are integral to what we Australians regard as our sense of nationhood”. He further maintained that we pursue a “vigorous, ambitious human rights agenda”, domestically and internationally and that he had “enlarged the scope” of the Australian Human Rights Commission “to be a trustee of all human rights, including importantly, but not exclusively, the right to freedom from discrimination”.

While George is pushing his incredible view from a parallel universe, Peter Dutton is busy denying any human rights abuses in our offshore detention centres and making sure there is no oversight.

He has rejected an Amnesty International investigation of boat turnbacks as an “ideological attack” saying “the government is not going to be bullied into changing our position.”

Dutton refuses to deny that we illegally paid people smugglers, just as he refuses to deny his department were instrumental in gaining a visa for ‘journalist’ (I use the term loosely) Chris Kenny to visit Nauru while refusing to allow head of the AHRC Gillian Triggs access, or to guarantee not to prosecute anyone who spoke to the United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants who subsequently cancelled his visit.

When Ms Triggs asked “have we thought about what the consequences are of pushing people back to our neighbour Indonesia? Is it any wonder that Indonesia will not engage with us on other issues that we care about, like the death penalty?”, Dutton slammed her saying “For her to be out there making these unfounded comments is a complete disgrace.”

“It’s an international embarrassment and it’s an embarrassment for all Australians that we would have someone in a public office making comments like this that are completely unfounded,” he said.

This from the man who joked publicly about “Cape York time” and Pacific Islands being inundated. This from the man who called Sarah Hansen-Young an attention-seeking embarrassment for thinking she was spied on while on Nauru – which was of course true. This from the man who was the only Liberal frontbencher to boycott the Apology to the Stolen Generation.

If you need any further evidence of the government’s determination to control information about its immigration detention program, aid agencies including Save the Children and the Australian Red Cross were asked to offer “performance security” bonds – in one case, of $2 million – during negotiations over contracts relating to work caring for asylum seekers and refugees. The non-profit organisations were also being asked to agree to clauses that would prevent them speaking to the media without government approval.

Save the Children refused, seeing it as an attempt to gag advocacy, and subsequently lost its contracts to Transfield Services and Connect Settlement Services. When they finish today, there will no longer be an agency whose mission is to uphold the rights of children on Nauru – nor will there be a human rights organisation advocating for asylum seekers and refugees

Dutton was also responsible for the shameful treatment of pregnant asylum seeker Abyan.

The following excerpt from his maiden speech shows what Dutton really thinks about human rights, advocacy, and the legal system.

“I have seen the sickening behaviour displayed by people who, frankly, barely justify their existence in our sometimes overtolerant society.

The fight for a better place in which to live is today made even more difficult for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that the boisterous minority and the politically correct seem to have a disproportionate say in public debate today. The silent majority, the forgotten people—or the aspirational voters of our generation, as some like to term them—are fed up with bodies like the Civil Liberties Council and the Refugee Action Collective, and certainly the dictatorship of the trade union movement. Australians are fed up with the Civil Liberties Council— otherwise known as the criminal lawyers media operative—who appear obsessed with the rights of criminals yet do not utter a word of understanding or compassion for the victims of crime. Their motives are questionable and their hypocrisy breathtaking.

The mood of the silent majority is fast rising to one of anger, because at present there is a basic right that is being impinged upon. It is incumbent upon us to represent the views of the majority and not to be held captive by groups who grab headlines in tabloids on the basis of anything but substance. As leaders and representatives of this country, we must facilitate and inform debate, and not be deterred by those who would seek to drive their own hidden agendas.

At this point in time it is stating the obvious that in my opinion the courts are not representing the views in the large of the broader community. Time after time we see grossly inadequate sentences being delivered to criminals whose civil rights have far exceeded those of the victim and others in our society. This imbalance must be addressed, and for the sake of living standards and reasonable expectations for all Australians must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

Enter Border Force and a Minister with unilateral decision making power to bypass the judicial system.

Dutton is a hard line conservative who previously held leadership aspirations (truly!). He had run-ins with both Turnbull and Bishop when Malcom was leader the first time.

Apparently it was Scott Morrison who convinced Malcolm Turnbull to keep Peter Dutton in the Ministry. If nothing else, this, to me, confirms that Morrison wants the top job and is rallying his right wing foot soldiers for when his time comes because you sure wouldn’t be keeping Dutton on his performance.

 

Transfield shares go up and so does the debt

LABOR CRASHES THROUGH PREVIOUS DEBT LIMIT TOPPING QUARTER OF A TRILLION DOLLARS

October 12, 2012

Joint Media Statement: Andrew Robb and Joe Hockey

The Gillard Government has driven up Australia’s credit card to a record $256.4 billion according to latest Australian Office of Financial Management (AOFM) figures.

The previous debt ceiling of $250 billion was raised by Labor to $300 billion in the May budget further confirming its inability to curb its debt addiction.

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey, in a Liberal Party eNewsletter 27 July 2013, comments on the ALP’s “debt” TV commercial:

Kevin Rudd and Labor have increased Australia’s debt limit from $75 billion, to $200 billion, to $250 billion and now to $300 billion. The Treasury has told us that debt will hit $290 billion by Christmas, just $10 billion shy of the current legislated limit.

Only the Coalition will get the Budget back into the black, start to pay down Labor’s debt, and implement our economic Plan to grow the economy and create jobs.

Australians can’t afford another three years of Labor’s reckless spending.

Debt is certain to exceed $425 billion by Christmas

As at last Friday, 28 August 2015, gross government debt was $384.7 billion – the highest level ever recorded. This represents an increase of $111 billion from the level inherited by the Abbott government in September 2013. It is just as well Treasurer Joe Hockey scrapped the debt ceiling legislation early in the Abbott government’s term because he would now be having to introduce legislation to have the ceiling raised beyond $400 billion, a figure that will be exceeded before year end.


With the gross debt increasing by over $1 billion per week under the Abbott government, we have seen funding slashed to health, education, Indigenous Affairs, countless NGOs and charities, the CSIRO, the ABC, the NBN, and many other crucial areas.

We have seen the superannuation guarantee rise put on hold and the low income co-contribution abandoned. I’m not sure if axing the schoolkids bonus has passed yet. Family Benefit, after being reduced, is now being dangled as a sweetener again. Getting rid of the carbon and mining taxes cost low income earners in various different ways. Thousands of public service jobs have gone, as have many more in manufacturing and mining

So what have we got for the increased spending?

Plenty of money for defence and national security.

Since its election, the Government has invested more than $22 billion in Defence capability projects. The Government will provide Defence with $31.9 billion in 2015–16 and $132.6 billion over the Forward Estimates. This is an increase of $9.9 billion over the Forward Estimates when compared to the 2014–15 Budget and represents record expenditure on Defence.

Apparently Border Force is to have 6,000 officers. Taxi drivers beware! Perhaps some of those retrenched public servants could apply, provided they are willing to wear a black uniform, take an oath, use force, and fire a gun.

And lots of money for offshore detention.

Transfield has been providing services on Nauru, which has 637 asylum seekers, since September 2012, and on Manus Island since early 2014. Its existing $2.2 billion contract with the Department of Immigration for both centres will expire on October 31. Despite the many incidents and reports criticising the running of the detention camps, Transfield has just been awarded a further five year contract. The announcement saw Transfield shares rise by 9%.

Tony Shepherd, the head of Abbott’s Commission of Audit, was chairman of Transfield and had spent over a decade on the board, quitting only in October 2013 to take up the job as Commissioner.

Mr Shepherd left with more than 200,000 Transfield shares, allocated to his family superannuation fund, on top of his final salary of $380,000.

In a move strikingly similar to Dyson Heydon judging himself, Treasurer Joe Hockey and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann left it up to the audit commissioners to rule on potential conflicts of interest among themselves.

Shepherd now heads the WestConnex Delivery Authority which will award contracts to build the proposed Sydney toll road, co-funded by the Abbott government. He is also a director of the international arm of Virgin Australia.

Not that I am suggesting anything untoward in this tight knit circle.

“Mates help each other, they do not tax each other.” – Tony Abbott, February 23, 2011.

 

Abbott’s Ever Diminishing Campaign Options

I read online Friday morning that Australian Border Force were planning to conduct visa checks across the Melbourne CBD starting the same day and continuing over the weekend.

I read that the ABF would be “positioned at various locations around the CBD” and they would be, “speaking with any individual we cross paths with.” They warned Melburnians to “be aware of the conditions of your visa; if you commit visa fraud you should know it’s only a matter of time before you’re caught out.”

At first I thought it was a piece of satire but on closer view I realised it was wasn’t. What on earth did it mean? I don’t have a visa so if I went into the city should I take my passport with me? If I’m accosted and don’t have any identification on me, will I be apprehended?

The messages were very clear. The ABF were up for interrogating anyone on the streets. I decided I would stay home. Then later in the afternoon I learned that, in a ‘William Wallace’ type twitter call to arms, the concerned citizen response was swift and united.

A crowd of several hundred complete with banners, megaphones and plenty of spirit converged on Flinders Street Station. To borrow the now immortal words of one of our favourite sons, the late Ted Whitten, they ‘ stuck it up them’.

It happened, I read, because the Twittersphere went viral.

policeOne can’t help feeling for the Victorian Police. A body the majority of Victorians view with the greatest of respect, was somehow blindsided, along with Yarra Trams, the Victorian Taxi Directorate and others, into playing ball with the Australian Border Force when the ABF had no real idea what they were doing.

As a result of the protest the entire exercise was cancelled and the blame game began. The MSM were in no doubt that the real culprit was Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. Whether he was or wasn’t became irrelevant when the broader reality dawned.

Up until yesterday national security was the only issue the Coalition had in their kit bag that they hadn’t already stuffed up in a monumental way.

‘Border Farce’ as it quickly became known, has taken care of that. While it’s anybody’s guess when the next election will be held, one gets the feeling that the government is fast running out of winnable strategies to take to the people.

National security was going to be front and centre. Having now missed that bus, one would think that all their efforts will be concentrated on the Trade Unions.

No, hang on, they stuffed that up too. Whether Dyson Heydon stays or goes won’t matter. His personal query directed to Bill Shorten that he was “concerned about his credibility as a witness” has sort of rebounded, quite spectacularly.

They can’t campaign on health, education or infrastructure without making people laugh. Nor on our reputation overseas which has gone from sound and steady, to mockery and derision.

Science and Technology are two more no-go zones for fear of the gasps that would come from an incredulous public. They could have a crack at renewable energy technologies but that would be a bit hypocritical.

peterThey will also have to be careful how they play the ‘economy’ card. If you juxtapose their record over the past two years with their rhetoric leading up to the 2013 election, it makes for a litany of confusion and contradictions reminiscent of Joh Bejelke Petersen’s days as Queensland premier in the 1970s.

When Joe Hockey said he would produce a budget surplus in his first year and each year thereafter, he unwittingly demonstrated how ill equipped he was for the job. We all know how that’s working for him now?

Both he and the Coalition are also seriously compromised on the ‘How are you going to pay for it’ wedge. Joe Hockey is presently unable to tell us how he would fund the intended tax cuts he so desperately wants before he reveals any other goodies he might be contemplating.

They can hardly campaign on their overall performance either because they haven’t done anything…oh wait..yes, they got rid of the carbon tax and the mining tax and stopped the boats.

In the meantime they doubled the budget deficit, added $1 billion to the national debt for each week they have been in government and broken so many promises that any promise they make this time around, will only be met with more fits of laughter.

If Tony Abbott is still at the helm when the election is called, it is difficult to see them mounting much of a campaign at all. If Scott Morrison is the new PM then the extreme right wing of the party will have shot themselves in the foot.

If it’s Malcolm Turnbull, there will be some hope but given everything else that has transpired, it is hard to see him restoring enough confidence back into their copper veins any more than Kevin Rudd did for Labor in 2013.

Turnbull’s performance with the cost blowout of the now second rate NBN has left him looking quite sheepish and vulnerable. He’s also a republican which won’t help. Then we have Julie Bishop who has never been seriously tested and, I think, would not cope with the pressure.

abfThey have, in fact, limited their options so severely that their only weapon will be fear. That might work but then again, they wouldn’t want to promote the ABF as the nation’s great protector.

Their last resort would be to try and convince the more gullible within the electorate into thinking that no matter how bad they are, the alternative will be so much worse.

Given how bad they have been themselves, that would really stretch the limits of our imagination, wouldn’t it.

Dual citizen? Beware the Border Force street patrol

In many cases, buying into a conspiracy theory may result in an instant loss of credibility. However as reality becomes increasingly more absurd and Government policy more outrageous, what may once have seemed ludicrous now verges on genuine possibility. Friday the 28 August 2015 will go down in history as the day the citizens of Melbourne stood up against a police state and fascism. It will also be remembered as one of the most appallingly planned and ridiculously thought-out operations by a Government agency ever. And it demonstrates just why the instant revocation of citizenship in the proposed Allegiance to Australia Act is so incredibly dangerous.

Just weeks ago, the notion of Abbott’s paramilitary Border Force, prowling the streets of Australian cities and towns, searching for ‘visa fraudsters’ would have been laughed off as lunacy. The very thought of immigration and customs officials leaving their posts on the actual border of the nation and mingling among Saturday shoppers in the CBD of Melbourne would have been written off as an April Fool’s Day joke.

But no. Friday’s events showed that national security is no laughing matter for Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the now-missing-in-action Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton. The suggestion of potential identity checks of thousands of Australians meandering through the CBD was not so much of a suggestion, as part of an actual, real, planned inter-agency ‘safety’ operation with Victoria Police.

Astoundingly, the Australian Border Force issued a statement inferring that officers would be checking the visa status of people who crossed their paths on an ordinary weekend in Melbourne. There was no high profile event to warrant the operation, no actual security risk or suspected imminent incident of a terrorist nature. No. It was part of a crackdown on antisocial behaviour and outstanding warrants and to promote a ‘secure and cohesive’ community.

While Friday’s events were analysed, examined and ridiculed endlessly from every angle in the hours following the debacle, the whole concept of on-the-street visa checks ties in quite cleanly with another of Abbott’s new national security policies.

Earlier this year Abbott introduced the Allegiance to Australia Bill, which sets up a number of circumstances under which dual citizens may lose their Australian citizenship. While in some cases an actual conviction for an offence is required, there are many other cases where a person automatically renounces their citizenship by action.

Section 33AA of the Bill provides that where a person ‘acts inconsistently with their allegiance to Australia’ the renunciation has immediate effect from the moment the person does that action. Naturally, once the Minister becomes aware of the act and renunciation of citizenship, the person may be detained and deported.

The actions considered to be inconsistent with Australian allegiance include such things as engaging in terrorist activities; providing or receiving training connected with preparation for, engagement in, or assistance in a terrorist act; and financing terrorism or a terrorist. According to the University of Sydney’s Dr Rayner Thwaites and Dr Anne Twomey, a highly respected legal expert, the broadly worded provisions potentially apply to many innocent dual citizens. It means a law-abiding science or chemistry teacher, gym instructor or a member of a shooting club could inadvertently revoke their Australian citizenship if the skills they imparted or shared later helped a person commit a terrorist act.

As if this isn’t concerning enough, organisations such as Greenpeace and the Sea Shepherd have been labelled as terrorist organisations, as have other environmental groups. People protesting against mining are considered such a threat, ASIO has reportedly spied on them.

Of course, the Allegiance to Australia Bill has not yet become law, but section 501 of the Migration Act 1958 already allows the Minister to cancel the visa of any Australian resident who is not a citizen on a range of ‘character’ grounds. The ‘test’ does not require any actual criminal convictions or any proof of criminality; not that the Minister has to provide the evidence used for a decision anyway if he can cite ‘national security’. The Minister basically decides a person is not of the calibre expected of an Australian resident and abolishes their right to live in the country – no matter how many decades they may have called Australia home.

With 28% of Australians born overseas, and an estimated third of Australians thought to be dual citizens, there are potentially millions of Australians at risk of detainment and deportation. Approximately 600 visas have already reportedly been cancelled by the Minister on ‘character grounds’ in the past year alone.

Which raises the question – just which ‘visa fraudsters’ was Mr Don Smith and his Border Force officers intending to intercept?

Many commentators have pointed out the absurdity of notifying visa over-stayers of an operation cracking down on illegal immigrants. Clearly those without lawful authority to be in Australia would have stayed clear of the Melbourne CBD.

But now, consider the operation was jointly between Victoria Police and other agencies, including the Border Force. According to Victorian Police Minister, Wade Noonan MP, it was a standard police operation focusing on antisocial behaviour and to ensure the safety of the community. He accuses Border Force of ‘unfortunate and inappropriate characterisation’ of the joint venture.

This may be so, but it does raise serious questions about how such an operation, if it had continued, would have been carried out. How many people, lawfully in Australia, holding permanent resident visas, would have been potentially caught up in the fishing exercise? How many would find themselves suddenly detained on the murky grounds of failing to meet the ‘good character’ requirements of the Migration Act? There need be no criminal offence committed, conviction or even evidence provided. What constitutes ‘antisocial behaviour’, and would suspicion of such warrant the immediate detainment and deportation of a New Zealand national, for example?

And if Abbott has his way and the Allegiance to Australia Bill becomes law, how exactly does Dutton intend to ‘discover’ those automatically renouncing their citizenship? Will the sight of Border Force agents patrolling shopping centres and malls be a regular and common occurrence? Will the Border Force be sent out to catch dual citizen commuters automatically revoking their citizenship by dropping a gold coin donation in a Wilderness Society tin? Will Border Force agents be pouncing on dual citizens buying chemistry sets from the National Geographic shop?

The ramifications of Friday’s aborted operation are huge. Despite Victoria Police seeing sense and cancelling the ridiculous event, the fact it was planned in the first place is cause for alarm.

The concerns about Border Force and Operation Fortitude has gone beyond racial profiling. Are we in the midst of a national cleansing program?

 

Border Force Farce And The Abbott Government!

Well, the Border Force in Melbourne sort of confirmed it.

Either they have no idea, or else they think that they’re writers who believe that anything Clark and Dawe can do they can do better.

When Peter Dutton refused an interview with the ABC because it was an “operational matter”, the whole idea I had for a piece had been stolen by the minister himself.

And if you can’t laugh at something like this, you have to take it seriously.

We were assured by the head of Australian Border FORCE that this was a low level press release. Mm, it was quoting the regional commander for Victoria and Tasmania, which means that either what he was saying wasn’t meant for public consumption or else the person writing the press release was simply making it up. Sort of like Godwin Grech and utegate.

Either way, Don Smith’s statement had a lot of people making unfair comparison with Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. Let’s break down the most controversial part of Commandant Smith’s – sorry, I mean Commander, bloody autocorrect – statement.

“ABF officers will be positioned at various locations around the CBD speaking with any individual we cross paths with.”

Well, it certainly is clumsily worded. I mean, everyone knows that you shouldn’t use a prepostion to end a sentence with. But hey, it only says speaking with. It doesn’t say that they’ll be asking to see papers and taking into custody anyone who can’t produce their visa, does it? People who’ve lost their wallet won’t be taken to a detention centre until they can prove their bona fides, will they? So what’s the big deal. Who wouldn’t like a little chat with men in such spiffy black uniforms.

Secondly, I infer that the use of the word “individual” means that they won’t be talking to anyone in a group. And, as we all know, anyone travelling by themselves in the CBD is just asking for trouble. The message was clear, if you’re someone who’s overstayed their visa or snuck in by boat before Abbott was elected and you needed to go to the CBD this weekend, make sure you take friends with you. Or better yet, go to St Kilda where you won’t have to speak to anyone liable to remind you that your days in the world’s most livable city are numbered.

And, while “positioned” makes them sound like snipers, and the words “cross paths” does have a potentially threatening sound, as in the phrase, “You better not cross my path today”, this is mitigated by the full reading of the sentence. As the officers will be “positioned at various locations” it means that they’re not going anywhere and therefore don’t have a path to cross.

Which I guess means that they weren’t going to speak to anyone. Which makes it a rather pointless exercise and a waste of money.

So it’s really great that it’s been called off. I’m surprised that Joe hasn’t been trumpeting it as another example of them saving money, like when they dumped their Paid Parental Leave scheme – it’s savings like that which have enabled them to get spending back under control, so that we have the money to drop bombs costing upwards of $100,000 each on Syria. Yes, I know some of you lefties think that there should be something in place which mandated every time our government drops a bomb that they’re obliged to pick a school or hospital in Australia and drop the cost of the bomb into its bank account. Ridiculous, we’d go broke if we spent money with that sort of gay abandon.

(“Gay abandon” now there’s a phrase you don’t hear much any more, unless you’re talking about the Same Sex Marriage Plebiscite after the next election, when Abbott argues that it’s unnecessary because the people knew his policy when they re-elected him. Yes, I’m being ridiculous. As if Abbott is going to be re-elected. As if he’s going to be PM if he doesn’t hold the next election before Christmas.)

Ah, I’m glad it’s all been cleared up. The AFB wasn’t going to randomly stop people, and they weren’t going to use racial profiling to identify people who were worth “speaking” to. The latter being of particular concern to me because my physical appearance does resemble that of a New Zealander or an American who are amongst the highest countries when it comes to overstaying your visa.

Which sort of does leave one with the question of what exactly were they going to do?

Apart from be involved in “operational matters”, and we have no right to be told what they are . . .

 

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