Dropped like a hot potato
In a big shake-up in Canberra, Mike Pezzullo, the Secretary of the Home Affairs Department, has been given the boot after an investigation into his attempts to influence former Coalition governments through backdoor lobbying. The investigation found that Pezzullo had crossed the line of the public service code of conduct at least 14 times. “That inquiry found breaches of the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct by Mr Pezzullo. Mr Pezzullo fully cooperated with the inquiry,” PM Anthony Albanese said yesterday as he confirmed the fate of one of Australia’s most senior and experienced bureaucrats.
Back it up a bit…
Pezzullo has been a public servant/adviser to politicians since 1987, and in his role as the head of the Home Affairs Department, he had one of the biggest jobs in the government – looking after domestic security, immigration, and border-related policy and enforcement. Last financial year, he was paid a cool $931,893 for his work. But not in his JD were secret dealings with a Coalition-linked powerbroker… In September, messages between himself and lobbyist Scott Briggs surfaced, pointing to covert efforts to gain and exert political influence with the Turnbull and Morrison governments. An independent inquiry was convened, and it found he breached the code, and now he’s gawn…
What happens now?
Stephanie Foster will continue to act as department secretary until a permanent appointment is made. As for Pezzullo, he’s not getting as sweet a deal as he could have been eligible for on the way out… Regulatory changes were made last week that slashed compensation obligations owed to department secretaries found to have breached the public service code of conduct. As for these sorts of incidents in the future, the government is keen to close a loophole that allows public servants to dodge sanctions from possible code of conduct breaches by resigning.
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