Michael Pezzullo, the Home Affairs secretary, has been sacked for breaching the Australian Public Service (APS) code of conduct by sending text messages to a Liberal Party powerbroker. The sacking comes after an independent inquiry found that Pezzullo’s messages contained “content that was of a political nature” and “could have been perceived to have undermined the APS’s political impartiality.”
Pezzullo’s Text Messages to Liberal Party Powerbroker
The text messages sent by Pezzullo to Liberal Party Senator and former Home Affairs Minister, Alex Hawke, were revealed in an ABC Four Corners investigation in July 2023. The messages discussed a range of political issues, including the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the appointment of new judges to the High Court of Australia.
Independent Inquiry Finds Pezzullo’s Messages to Have Breached APS Code of Conduct
In August 2023, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) launched an independent inquiry into Pezzullo’s text messages. The ANAO’s report, released on November 23, 2023, found that Pezzullo’s messages “were of a political nature and could have been perceived to have undermined the APS’s political impartiality.” The report also found that Pezzullo’s messages “did not comply with the APS code of conduct.”
Pezzullo Sacked for Breaching APS Code of Conduct
In light of the ANAO’s findings, the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, has sacked Pezzullo from his position as Home Affairs secretary. In a statement, Albanese said that Pezzullo’s “conduct was unacceptable and breached the APS code of conduct.”
Pezzullo’s Sacking Met with Mixed Reactions
The sacking of Pezzullo has been met with mixed reactions. Some have welcomed the decision, arguing that it is important for the APS to be seen as impartial and that Pezzullo’s actions had undermined this perception. Others have expressed concern about the precedent that the sacking sets, arguing that it could chill free speech within the APS.
Pezzullo’s Sacking Could Have Wider Impact on APS
The sacking of Pezzullo could have a wider impact on the APS, as it could make public servants more cautious about engaging in political discourse. It could also lead to a more adversarial relationship between the APS and the government.