In the upcoming budget, the federal government is expected to allocate an extra AU$400 million to the department of immigration with staffing levels expected to hit a record 6000 officers within the next few years. Hundreds of people are currently being interviewed for jobs.
Labelled as the ‘once in a generation overhaul’ the department is the only one, other than Defence, to receive a funding boost. The new funds are to support the major reorganisation for bigger flows of people and goods in and out of Australia under a more ‘rigorous enforcement regime’ according to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald.
Part of the funds will go toward arming of officers; taking over Australia’s immigration detention network; and taking up positions on the frontline at airports, shipping terminals and at sea to gather intelligence and detain offenders.
A new website, Border.gov.au, will also be launched to replace the websites for the formerly separate Immigration and Customs departments.
In a major speech on the future of the merged agencies in April, Immigration Department secretary Michael Pezzullo said the focus of the new department would be to “manage a system of border processes by which we will oversee the flow of people, and goods, to and from our nation”.
“Our staff will, where necessary, be expected to say ‘no’ more often than they do now, where circumstances warrant and within the law, as a result of the better use that they will make of new intelligence systems and other capabilities, as well as improved relationships with law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and better training and support to make defensible adverse decisions,” he said adding “The Australian community rightly expects us to deliver those benefits, and to keep the public safe. This is not a choice. It has to be done simultaneously and seamlessly.”