CANBERRA -- A U.S-style Department of Homeland Security for Australia to tackle domestic terrorism has been talked about for a while.
The idea is to remove the domestic spy agency ASIO from the responsibility of the Attorney General and merge it with at least half a dozen relevant federal agencies and then re-badge it as "Homeland Security" and place it under the current Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.
A sort of Border Force on steroids. Now it seems it is finally in the works.
After it was splashed across Fairfax Media on Monday that planning for the new super department was underway, such planning was soon confirmed by the Special Minister of State Scott Ryan.
"I understand the Prime Minister has commissioned a wide-ranging review into our security agencies which is the first since late 2011 or 2012 and the government is awaiting that report and the government will consider that report," he told Sky News.
Malcolm Turnbull is briefly out of the country, in Indonesia, and when asked about any proposed mega homeland security department he said: "I am not going to comment on that sort of administrative speculation about administrative arrangements".
The Acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce on Tuesday joked about a Homeland Security-style office in his electorate.
"Well, none directly in Tamworth. Mind you, we could put it in Armidale."
The Nationals Leader has been accused by Labor of shoring up his own northern NSW seat -- AKA pork barrelling -- over his decision to relocate the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) from Canberra to Armidale. The shift is expected to cost taxpayers $25.6 million, experienced staff are leaving the agency and there is so little office space in Armidale, senior staff are working out of the local McDonald's outlet.
Barnaby Joyce jokes that Australia's Department of Homeland Security could be based in Armidale— Michael Koziol (@michaelkoziol) March 6, 2017
Joyce then appeared exasperated as he appeared to describe the need for such a super department to tackle domestic terrorism.
"I think one of the big selling points for the government of course is that we keep our borders strong," Joyce told reporters.
"We are being challenged all the time by people who the modus operandi -- and it is sad because a lot of them are born in Australia -- is to hurt people, to maim people.
"We have got to try and somehow deal with that. I wish we didn't. I wish that was not the case. Even the idea the other day that someone in Young was trying to develop a laser-guided system.
"Why? Look at it. Such a beautiful day! Why do that? Why do that?"