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Australian Current Affairs

Australia’s military takes over border protection; SAS commander in charge

Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott meets with Defence chiefs, including Major-General Angus Campbell (left), at Parliament House

Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott meets with Defence chiefs, including Major-General Angus Campbell (left), at Parliament House

Deputy Chief of Army Angus Campbell will be named Tony Abbott‘s three-star military commander of border protection, with the job of co-ordinating the new government’s tough asylum-seeker policies.

The former SAS commander and deputy National Security Adviser has emerged as Defence’s choice to head up the 16 departments and agencies under the Coalition’s Operation Sovereign Borders policy, which effectively militarises border protection.

Major-General Campbell’s task will include finding a way to meet Mr Abbott’s controversial pledge to turn back asylum-seeker boats where it is safe to do so. He will answer directly to Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.

Mr Abbott branded border protection a “national emergency” that needed to be tackled with the clout of a senior military commander when he unveiled Operation Sovereign Borders in late July.

General Campbell’s job will be to co-ordinate a joint taskforce made up of government agencies ranging from ASIO to the Immigration Department, as well as the Australian Defence Force and the Federal Police.

It is understood he was regarded as right for the job in part because of his experience working inside government as a civilian in national security, which involved co-ordinating national security policy across the government.

The Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley, will recommend his appointment to the government, which is due to be sworn in on Wednesday morning. Mr Abbott is expected to announce the appointment in the coming days.

He has previously been the commander of Australia’s military operations in the Middle East, which includes Afghanistan and Iraq. He has also served in East Timor.

Currently a two-star rank, he will be promoted to the three-star rank of Lieutenant-General.

About 475 asylum-seekers have arrived on seven boats in the 10 days since Mr Abbott led the Coalition to victory.

As opposition leader he repeatedly promised that one of his top priorities would be to “stop the boats”.

On Monday, he called it a “stand-or-fall issue” for the new government.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald – Two-star veteran Angus Campbell promoted to run border protection

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