Burnside calls Dutton’s new police powers ‘alarming’

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Burnside calls Dutton’s new police powers ‘alarming’

Peter Dutton

Prominent barrister and human rights advocate Julian Burnside QC said that it will be a slippery slope “all the way to an Orwellian nightmare” if calls from the Home Affairs Minister to give federal police the power to ask for ID at airports come to fruition.

Speaking at the 3AW studio on Tuesday morning about the need for increased powers for the Australian Federal Police, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton MP said: “There’s certain conditions that need to be met at the moment before police can ask for identification, which is an absurdity and it’s an issue that the police have raised with us.

“We’re addressing an anomaly and a deficiency in the law at the moment.”

Mr Burnside said that it was an “alarming proposal”.

“His attitude reveals a remarkable ignorance of basic legal and social precepts; ignorance which is all the more alarming given that he is arguably the most powerful person in the country,” the barrister said.

The Home Affairs Minister has also announced his intention to invest in face recognition technology, Mr Burnside added, so that photographic images captured — such as on CCTV cameras on streets — can identify individual people and link them to other information held by government agencies.


“The next step, almost certainly, will be compulsory state-issued ID cards. After that, it’s downhill all the way to an Orwellian nightmare,” the barrister argued.

To illustrate his point, Mr Burnside quoted the Sir Zelman Cowen-hosted Boyer Lectures on ABC Radio from 1969, in which Sir Zelman said: “A man without privacy is a man without dignity. The fear that Big Brother is watching and listening threatens the individual no less than the prison bars”.

“He argued for the importance of the right to be left alone,” Mr Burnside said.

“That right is more urgently important now than it was in 1969, and more under threat if Dutton gets his way.”

Jerome Doraisamy

Jerome Doraisamy

Jerome Doraisamy is a senior writer for Lawyers Weekly and Wellness Daily at Momentum Media.

Jerome is an admitted solicitor in New South Wales and, prior to joining the team in early 2018, he worked in both commercial and governmental legal roles and has worked as a public speaker and consultant to law firms, universities and high schools across the country and internationally. He is also the author of The Wellness Doctrines self-help book series and is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Western Australia.

Jerome graduated from the University of Technology, Sydney with a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Social Inquiry).

You can email Jerome at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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