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Should ministerial arrangements for domestic security be changed?

By Peter Jennings and David Connery

The recent increase in Australia’s terrorism alert, reported prime ministerial concern over national security arrangements, major increases in counterterrorism funding and operational success against people smuggling have raised a new question in Canberra: are our arrangements for managing domestic security optimal? This paper examines this question as a debate.

Presenting the case for change is ASPI senior analyst David Connery. He gives five reasons why change is needed, before proposing a new split in which a Minister for Security and Resilience takes over responsibility for enforcing Australia’s domestic security and emergency management laws.

Peter Jennings, ASPI’s executive director, presents a case for the status quo, arguing that the National Security Committee of Cabinet (NSC) is more important in ensuring coordinated security policy than the division of responsibilities among its ministers.