Federal

Jun 13, 2018

The faceless bureaucracy that’s pushing us down the road to a police state

Australia's transition to an anti-dissent police state reflects a bureaucratic system intent of extending itself, and politicians who have an interest in allowing it to.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

Once you discern a pattern of actions that are intended to establish a specific kind of anti-dissent police state, the next question is who is responsible, and why. Merely asserting it's the fault of "the government" or of individual politicians, doesn't help. There will always be ambitious or power-hungry politicians, or politicians who value control and authority over freedom. The question is what has failed to restrain them, or why systemic factors have enabled them to have their way. 

The actions we itemised yesterday derive from three separate sources.

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37 comments

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37 thoughts on “The faceless bureaucracy that’s pushing us down the road to a police state

  1. covenanter

    Some may remember when the conservatives displaced actual defence force personnel from the defence force headquarters in Canberra, and replaced then with bureaucrats, bureaucrats not necessarily burdened with any oath of allegiance to the Crown, and so any commitment to defend the actual people of Australia.
    A subtle act of treachery?
    Was this the beginning of the unfolding situation described in the article?

  2. David Nicholas

    Well, Bernard we are becoming a police state in my view. What has alarmed me is that writing dissent about Peter Dutton and his grab for power using legislation rammed through parliament has no chance of public debate is being quelled. I was stunned when Dutton spoke on this a week or so ago where he said that greater police powers to be given under national security included ‘preserving the culture’ of Australia and no one said boo!
    I mean think about it, Australia is per capita one of the dumbest — preferentially remaining ignorant, oblivious — in the western world. Meaning ignorant of anything that would begat a deep understanding and daily knowledge of why we are in the world. Worse, we don’t want to know. It is always too damn difficult.
    We have mental massaging providing the footie happens throughout the week and/or cricket on the weekends and cooking and “finding true love” shows occupy primetime reality tv, Australians by enlarge are oblivious what is happening beyond our borders. In short, this is the culture of the dumb and stupid. That this culture is what we want preserve to prevent change especially social change should be alarming. This culture ensures that public debate about issues that matter to our national interest is kept obscure on the margins of the mainstream like Crikey. And rather than be mindful of what is going on we are just too happy to hand over our concerns and cede protections to our security services whose agenda is that Australia should be run like a military base.
    Dutton’s power grab reminds me of the time when US Airforce General Curtis LeMay the Vice Presidential candidate with Republican Presidential Alabama Governor George Wallace in 1968 stated that the US should be run like a SAC base. General LeMay was in charge of the Strategic Air Command which controlled and still controls the B1, B2 Stealth bombers that fly nuclear weapons across the world as we sleep. It was General LeMay who during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 wanted to nuke Cuba.
    Similarly, Dutton has his agenda — an extreme right wing agenda — which he hints at and should Turnbull be rolled as is likely if he loses the next general election, he will gain control of the LNP. In short if ever the LNP became a government again with him in charge, the police state is assured. Anti-dissent will be looked upon as a luxury.
    Too far off in the future to worry about? The future comes up faster than we think. Daily immediate gratification which dominates in cultural conversations is no substitute for being informed of what can kill us. Or am I wrong?

    1. [email protected]

      Exactly so. You say Turnbull is a barrier to Dutton? Hard to see Turnbull in that light. In any case I agree that Dutton is the anointed one and will roll right over Turnbull. Dutton will be Commissar (whether he is PM or not) and then the saying ‘you ain’t seen nothing yet’ will take on a whole new meaning; these are the good days. I share your frustration regarding the lack of clarity in the mainstream regarding how deeply our way of life is being altered to our detriment.

  3. AR

    I wish that I could think of something useful to suggest but, apart from air strikes on the Hole under the Hill, I can’t.
    As BK, an ex civil servant, has pointed out passim, bureaucrats breed and swarm.
    When any agglomeration reaches a certain size, an increasing proportion of its energy goes to perpetuating the entity rather than serving the function for which it was created.

    1. [email protected]

      Yes indeed. We are looking at it now.

  4. 1984AUS

    The ABC has been under attack since its inception, by the Murdoch family hypocritical evil proselytizers of the free market and competition!

    Keith Murdoch, father of Rupert, was a newspaper proprietor with interests in several commercial radio stations.

    When, by 1936, the ABC had begun to develop an independent news service, Murdoch was greatly displeased.

    His newspapers demanded a reduction in the ABC’s income from licence fees so that it would, in Inglis’ summary, ”stop competing improperly with private enterprise”.

    Keith Murdoch and other newspaper owners insisted that the ABC be restricted to no more than 200 words a day of overseas news, and limited its presentation of news bulletins to five minutes in the evening – but not before 7.50pm, by which time it was thought people would have finished reading their newspapers.

    In an early show of defiance, the vice-chairman of the ABC, Herbert Brookes – a leading conservative and son-in-law of Alfred Deakin, Australia’s second prime minister – attacked Murdoch for his self-interest and his attempts to cripple the ABC’s news service, as well as his ”conspiracy of silence” about the success of the ABC.

    Private commercial interests were not the only enemies. At its inception and for many years later, the ABC was the responsibility of the Postmaster-General’s department.

    A politician to hold the office of Postmaster-General in 1938 was a South Australian Country Party man with a military background, A.G.Cameron.

    When the chairman of the [ABC] commission and two of its members first met him, Cameron did not mince his words:

    ”’I know nothing about broadcasting. I’m not interested in it. If I had my way I would stop all broadcasting. No time for these mechanical things. Don’t know anything about music. As for people who give talks and commentaries over the air, if I had my way I would poison the blank blanks – would bring them under the Vermin Act.”

    1. AR

      Thanks for that Cameron quote – scary as.

  5. 1984AUS

    The ABC has been under attack since its inception, by the Murdoch family hypocritical evil proselytizers of the free market and competition!

    In 1936, the ABC ha begun to develop an independent news service, Murdoch was greatly displeased.

    His newspapers demanded a reduction in the ABC’s income from licence fees so that it would, in Inglis’ summary, ”stop competing improperly with private enterprise”.

    Keith Murdoch and other newspaper owners insisted that the ABC be restricted to no more than 200 words a day of overseas news, and limited its presentation of news bulletins to five minutes in the evening – but not before 7.50pm, by which time it was thought people would have finished reading their newspapers.

    In an early show of defiance, the vice-chairman of the ABC, Herbert Brookes – a leading conservative and son-in-law of Alfred Deakin, Australia’s second prime minister – attacked Murdoch for his self-interest and his attempts to cripple the ABC’s news service, as well as his ”conspiracy of silence” about the success of the ABC.

  6. 1984AUS

    Martin Parkinson on almost a million a year, picked up form the scrap heap where Abbott tossed him …a career bureaucrat as is his wife Heather Smith.

  7. 1984AUS

    Michael Pezzullo another bureaucrat who is a very sick dangerous fist pumping maniac. A perfect bookend to Dutton. Shagger Quaedvlieg scooped up 7 months full pay before Dutton farewelled his ex Qld copper colleague.

    The lack of transparency results in Pezza and Dutton having a free for all with taxpayers money.

    The need to be charged and jailed as the $2billion they’ve spent without authorization is a criminal offence; along with no departmental records existing as to who authorised the payments. This is one example of why the police state is the goal.

    “$1.1bn was approved by DIBP officers who did not have the required authorisation; and for the remaining $1.1bn there was no departmental record of who authorised the payments”.

    It comes off the back of another ANAO report released last September into the procurement of support and welfare services for offshore detention centres that found the tendering process was horribly flawed.

    The ANAO found that in 2014, rather than use an open tender process, the department “determined to only enter into negotiations with its preferred tenderer, Transfield”. And this was done in a situation which the ANAO found “no available record of specific conflict of interest declarations having being made by departmental officers who were responsible for the procurement”.

    To top it all off, the ANAO concluded that “Transfield’s overall price increased by $1.1bn above its tender bid during negotiations due to the department amending its requirements and accepting further enhancements to services” despite the department having “no government authority to increase the value of the contract to cover service additions”.

    And just to put a nice cherry on top, the latest ANAO report concludes of the whole tender process that these contract variation worth $1bn were made “without a documented assessment of value for money”.

    The report also suggests the department utterly dropped the ball on important aspects of the contracts. It found, for example, that with respect to the filming of detainees “the department could not make available any records to demonstrate that the privacy of individuals, including in relation to filming children without parental consent, had been considered”.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/22/not-even-the-tennis-can-distract-us-from-how-badly-this-government-is-doing#comment-91647659

  8. BeenAround

    There is s simple problem with Australian democracy. Our constitution guarantees basic institutions only, not citizens’ rights. That flaw is what is being exposed by Dutton and his ilk. An Australian bill of rights is long overdue because the basic institutions are not only failing to protect individual rights, they are at the very least complicit in the erosion of those constitutionally illusory rights.

    1. 1984AUS

      I usually spend up to 4 or 5 hours a day scanning news sources, as many independent ones as possible and am obviously a subscriber to Crikey and
      also The Saturday Paper. I am well informed and have had a lifetime involved in social justice and environmental campaigns/issues.

      As of around 2 weeks ago I stopped the news gathering and experienced the profound ignorance that most Australians’ enjoy. With the least diverse media in the free world owned primary by the humble dead school girl phone hacker, the Goebbel’s incarnate of the world, Australia has no hope of ever possessing an intelligent informed populace. As planned by conservative and corporate forces.

      And despite the inroads of the net, this is no counter to the impact of the Goebbel’s/Murdoch media that dictates the content and tone for all the other media genres in this nation.

      Our nation is doomed.

  9. 1984AUS

    “If politicians won’t check these tendencies to attack dissent and diminish freedoms on the part of bureaucrats, an institutional structure is needed to curb it. Australia has none because our spinning-jenny-era constitution doesn’t even comprehend the basic idea of individual rights and governments have refused to pursue a genuinely effective bill of rights. ”

    Nor will we get one in the future, especially with the legislation being passed under Howard, Abbott and Turnbull.

  10. 1984AUS

    Is Peter Dutton a fit and proper person to wield such awesome powers?
    Richard Ackland

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/06/is-peter-dutton-a-fit-and-proper-person-to-wield-such-awesome-new-powers

    I’ve put the points Ackland made but suggest readers read his article link above.

    Dutton:

    He has wide discretion over people’s lives with limited or no options for review or challenge.

    He can send people to indefinite offshore or onshore detention,

    he can turn boats back at sea,

    he can hold people on the high seas,

    he can grant visas,

    he can deny visas, and

    he can send people back to places they are fleeing.

    His current portfolio goes beyond immigration and refugee matters, extending to:

    tariff classifications,
    imports,
    exports,
    customs,
    citizenship and
    security at airports and ports.

    The portfolio of immigration and border protection vests this minister with the greatest number of ministerial public interest or national interest powers: 47 in total, according to Liberty Victoria’s study.

    Dutton is responsible for the administration of 20 acts or parts of acts.

    The attorney general, on the other hand, is responsible for 152 acts, yet his public interest or national interest discretionary powers at 38 are fewer than Dutton’s.

    Dutton is in a league of his own with the discretionary powers he can exercise as immigration minister – without accountability or transparency.

    As home affairs minister the range and reach of his discretion over people’s lives will expand alarmingly.

    The details of the ministerial arrangements have not yet been settled, but we do know that the new home affairs portfolio:

    will retain immigration and border protection and

    will take from the attorney general’s and justice departments,

    the Australian Security and

    Intelligence Organisation and

    the Australian federal police

    the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission,

    the Australian Transactions Reports and Analysis Centre,

    Emergency Management Australia including the Crisis Coordination Centre,

    the Australian Institute of Criminology and the

    Critical Infrastructure Centre.

    The Office of Transport Security

    It is not certain at this stage whether the terrorism provisions under the Criminal Code 1995 or under division 3A of the Crimes Act will also go to home affairs and Dutton.

    Canberra-based law researcher Peta Leigh has identified the powers under the Asio Act that the minister can exercise, including:

    Issuing warrants if he has reasonable grounds for believing that Asio’s access to premises will assist intelligence collection. This extends to personal frisk searches and the removal and retention of records and computer data – section 25(2).

    Issuing specific computer access warrants – section 25A.

    Issuing surveillance device warrants, which includes the tracking of a person and surveillances of places where the target is believed to be located – section 26.

    Authorising the inspection of postal articles – section 27.

    Warrants to service providers, including internet service providers, to deliver contents and articles – section 27AA.

    Identified person warrants, giving Asio access to records, computer data, use of surveillance devices, and access to postal articles – “for any time period”. Section 27C.

    Dutton will be able to issue warrants for questioning and detention in police custody.

    Then there is the Australian federal police where Dutton as the responsible minister will be able to give directions to the commissioner “with respect to the general policy to be pursued in relation to the performance of functions by the AFP”.

    It’s all together too awesome an array of powers in the hands of one person, made all the more dangerous by this minister’s lack of understanding and respect for the rule of law.

    The minister parades this insistence on the absoluteness of his authority in the name of “keeping Australians safe”.

    Safe from what?

    Certainly we’re not safe from his autocratic tendencies.”

    1. [email protected]

      Crikey! It was scary watching the Dutton morph before I read this; now its terrifying {

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