The Coalition has today responded to Kevin Rudd's PNG agreement on asylum seekers with its own announcement of "Operation Sovereign Borders". The dramatic-sounding announcement, by immigration spokesman Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, almost entirely relates to restructuring in Canberra, with a new three-star general appointed to lead a $10 million "taskforce" involving agencies already dealing with the asylum seeker issue. Three-star generals are at the level of service chiefs; the Chief of the Defence Force, currently General David Hurley, is a four-star general. A new three-star general would thus effectively be the establishment of a new defence service, albeit with few resources beyond Canberra bureaucrats, and reporting directly to the immigration minister, rather than reporting to the Chief of the Defence Force. This new military structure for immigration would mark a departure from existing Defence arrangements, in which service chiefs report to the Chief of the Defence Force, who reports to the defence minister as part of a "diarchy" structure with the secretary for defence. The Coalition has committed, within 100 days of being elected, to:
- Establish an "Operation Sovereign Borders" HQ and "Operation Sovereign Borders Joint Agency Taskforce";
- Finalise "protocols" for turning boats back "where it is safe to do so";
- Increase capacity at offshore processing centres (presumably beyond the increases already scheduled by the government; and
- Lease vessels "to relieve patrol vessels of passenger transfers".
Government accused of selling out Palestine for Wentworth win
Good morning, early birds! Prime Minister Scott Morrison is facing backlash over the proposal to move the Australian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and an asylum seeker deal between Australia and New Zealand is reportedly back on the table. It's the news you need to know, with Chris Woods.
Morrison considers Jerusalem recognition
Good morning, early birds! Prime Minister Scott Morrison is considering the controversial move of following Donald Trump in formally acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and Liberal backbenchers call for children to be evacuated from Nauru. It's the news you need to know, with Chris Woods.
Doctors Without Borders details Nauru plight
Good morning, early birds! Médecins Sans Frontières has detailed the “absolutely devastating” mental health among asylum seekers housed on Nauru, while calling for their immediate evacuation. It's the news you need to know, with Chris Woods.
Biloela girls and baby in on-shore detention showing ‘behavioural disturbance’
Doctors have raised troubling concerns about the rare instance of three young girls in long-term detention.
Home Affairs deports up to 25 asylum seekers
The Department of Home Affairs appears to have launched a late-night mass deportation of mostly Sri Lankan asylum seekers last night with very little warning.