Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday the deployment of additional AFP personnel at Australia’s airports under the newly formed Protection Operation Response Team (PORT). The $107 million initiative will reportedly see military style policing at airports with its members armed with MK-18 short-barrel rifles and carrying face recognition technology whilst undertaking ‘scoping’ and ‘behavioural assessment’ duties.
In light of the incessantly intrusive politicisation of security in the ‘war on terror’ (WOT) era, Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia would like to make the following comments:
1. Scott Morrison says this initiative is needed in response to the new set of realities in which we live. What he has conveniently failed to mention is the fact Western governments are the architects of the political and security instability we all face today. Two decades of the WOT has made the world less safe, not more.
2. The deployment of facial recognition technology is consistent with the Orwellian trajectory of WOT policies. The line has shifted so significantly in two decades that little argument needs to be made today about ‘due process’ or ‘rule of law’. Security is the new civility.
3. In a move that will make even China blush, the new technology will undoubtedly be used disproportionately against Muslims, a fact that is already evident with existing experiences, existing powers and existing technologies. The racial profiling of Australia’s Muslim population is near complete.
4. Although funding for this initiative was announced in the last budget, this latest announcement, with its specific details, comes on the back of more terror raids and at a time of peak travel. It’s a well-worn cycle, where terror raids are splashed across our screens, public anxieties heightened, and new laws or new powers deployed without question.
The exploitation of security for political purposes shows no signs of abating. The government wants to talk tough about a perceived ‘threat’, while China is actually threatening Australia’s security.
5. It is not without coincidence that at a time of a struggling economy, where cuts to vital services have been unashamedly announced, the Morrison government still pours millions of dollars into security at the behest of its agencies. Whilst ASIO and the AFP endlessly fill their coffers, and the government beefs up their electoral chances, the question of who really benefits from these initiatives needs to be asked that much more urgently.
Media Office of Hizb ut-Tahrir
7th December 2019