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Governing disorder: The Australian Federal Police and Australia's new regional frontier

Hameiri, S. (2009) Governing disorder: The Australian Federal Police and Australia's new regional frontier. The Pacific Review, 22 (5). pp. 549-574.

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The Australian Federal Police has in recent years become an important actor in both the implementation and design of Australian-led state building interventions in Australia's near region of Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. The article focuses on the recent expansion of the Australian Federal Police as a way of understanding the emergence of a new partly (and strategically) deterritorialized, 'regional' frontier of the Australian state. Within this new frontier, whose fluctuating outlines the Australian Federal Police not only polices but also to a considerable extent shapes and reshapes, as one of the primary expert agencies on identifying and managing transnational security risks, Australian security is portrayed as contingent on the quality of the domestic governance of neighbouring states, thereby creating linkages between the hitherto domestic governing apparatus of the Australian state and those of other countries. This allows for the rearticulation of the problems affecting intervened states and societies - indeed, their very social and political structures - in the depoliticized terms of the breakdown of 'law and order' and the absence of 'good governance', which not only rationalizes emergency interventions to stabilize volatile situations, but also delegitimizes and potentially criminalizes oppositional politics. The Australian Federal Police, however, does more than merely provide justification for intrusive state transformation projects. Its transnational policing activities open up a field of governance within the apparatus of intervened states that exists in separation from international and domestic law. The constitution of such interventions 'within' the state leaves intact the legal distinction between the domestic and international spheres and therefore circumvents the difficult issue of sovereignty. As a result, police and other executive-administrative actors obtain discretionary ordering powers, without dislodging the sovereign governments of intervened countries.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Asia Research Centre
Publisher: Routledge
Copyright: © 2009 Taylor & Francis
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