House debates

Monday, 27 November 2023

Questions without Notice

Pezzullo, Mr Michael, AO

2:54 pm

Photo of Luke GoslingLuke Gosling (Solomon, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Home Affairs. How has the Albanese Labor government responded to the findings in the report handed down by the Australian Public Service Commissioner?

Photo of Clare O'NeilClare O'Neil (Hotham, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Home Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for his question. Our government places extremely high value on the professionalism and integrity of the Australian Public Service. There was extensive media reporting undertaken in late September this year which raised a number of questions about the conduct of the secretary of my department at the time, Mr Pezzullo. We regard these matters as very serious, and they required a serious investigation to get to the bottom of what happened.

The parliament would be aware that, as soon as I became aware of these allegations, I referred the matter to the Australian Public Service Commissioner. The Australian Public Service Commissioner then conducted a lengthy, proper investigation of the conduct. The report into that matter has been finalised and handed to the Prime Minister. The report found multiple breaches of the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct by Mr Pezzullo. Ms Briggs, who ran the inquiry, determined that Mr Pezzullo breached the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct on at least 14 occasions in relation to five overarching allegations, those allegations being that Mr Pezzullo used his duty, power, status or authority to seek to gain benefit or advantage for himself, that he engaged in gossip and disrespectful critique of ministers and public servants, that he failed to maintain confidentiality of sensitive government information, that he failed to act apolitically in his employment and that he failed to disclose a conflict of interest. Based on those findings, and at the recommendation of Ms Briggs, Mr Pezzullo's appointment as the secretary of my department has been terminated.

What does this say about our government and our approach to the business of the work we do? We have profound respect for the frank and fearless advice that the Australian Public Service has a great history of providing to Australian governments. We value proper process. We value the integrity of the Australian Public Service; indeed, we insist on it.