Pezzullo sacked at dawn with immediate effect and no golden ‘chute

By Julian Bajkowski

November 27, 2023

Mike Pezzullo
Newly-former home affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Prime minister Anthony Albanese has moved to sack home affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo just days after new restrictions were placed on generous payouts for department secretaries who are sent packing for Australian Public Service Code of Conduct violations.

“Earlier today the Governor-General in Council terminated the appointment of Michael Pezzullo as Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs,” the prime minister said in a statement.

“This action was based on a recommendation to me by the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Australian Public Service Commissioner, following an independent inquiry by Lynelle Briggs.

“That inquiry found breaches of the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct by Mr Pezzullo. Mr Pezzullo fully cooperated with the inquiry.”

On Friday, the government rammed through a determination via the Remuneration Tribunal that will strip bad secretaries of entitlement to a year’s salary if they have their roles terminated with more than 12 months to serve on their contract if they breached the APS Code of Conduct or acted corruptly.

Secretaries with less than 12 months remaining will also miss out on six months’ worth of termination pay if found to have transgressed.

Pezzullo’s sacking comes after a slew of WhatsApp messages with Liberal Party operative Scott Briggs were made public that allegedly embroiled the former home affairs secretary in political wheeling and dealing around potential ministerial appointments.

The Australian Public Service commissioner launched an independent inquiry after the revelation run by former APSC commissioner Lynelle Briggs. Lynelle Briggs is not related to Scott Briggs.

A statement issued by the APSC said that Briggs had found that Pezzullo “breached the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct on at least 14 occasions in relation to 5 overarching allegations.”

The APSC said that those allegations were that Pezzullo:

  • used his duty, power, status or authority to seek to gain a benefit or advantage for himself,
  • engaged in gossip and disrespectful critique of Ministers and public servants,
  • failed to maintain the confidentiality of sensitive government information,
  • failed to act apolitically in his employment,
  • failed to disclose a conflict of interest.

By way of sanction, Briggs recommended that Pezzullo’s appointment as a secretary be terminated pursuant to section 59 of the Public Service Act.

The Prime Minister’s Office said Stephanie Foster would continue to act as secretary of the Department of Home Affairs “until a permanent appointment is made”.


Home Affairs boss Mike Pezzullo stands down over Liberal texts

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