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Pull your head in, Mike

Mike Pezzullo is miffed.

A few days ago, this supposedly apolitical head of the Department of Home Affairs took the extraordinary step of ringing Senator Rex Patrick to tell him to watch his words after the Senator issued a press release criticising the media raids.

“The overall trend has been clear for some time with the Government clearly working up a suppression trifecta: routinely obstruction and delaying freedom of Information applications; persecuting whistleblowers such as Witness K and Richard Boyle, and now using the police to intimidate journalists.”

Apparently Mike took exception to the following as he felt his character was being attacked:

“There is no doubt that Coalition Ministers and senior bureaucrats have no love of media scrutiny.”

Gee, now why would anyone think that.

His boss, Peter Dutton, infamously said “Some of the crazy lefties at the ABC, and on The GuardianHuffington Post, can express concern and draw mean cartoons about me and all the rest of it. They don’t realise how completely dead they are to me.”

How dare they criticise him for wanting to fast-track refuge for persecuted “white” South Africans.

But he’s not alone in trying to avoid criticism and scrutiny.

George Brandis spent over $50,000 on an unsuccessful three-year legal battle to avoid releasing his diary just because he didn’t want anyone to know that he did not consult with anyone working in the community legal sector before their funding was cut in the 2014 budget.

Staff and former staff at the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, the CSIRO, and the agriculture department were directed not to respond to summonses from the SA Royal Commission and not to hand over documents.

Senator Michaelia Cash and former justice minister Michael Keenan twice refused to provide witness statements to police about media leaks over raids on union offices, initiated by the ROC after receiving a letter from Cash about old donations.  Cash’s legal representation in the AWU’s federal court case has cost taxpayers $289,000 while the Registered Organisations Commission has incurred $550,000.

The government settled a class action brought on behalf of 1,905 refugees and asylum seekers detained on Manus island for $70 million rather than proceed with a trial that would have involved evidence before the court from detainees of murder inside the detention centre, systemic sexual and physical abuse, and inadequate medical treatment leading to injury and death.

After a request from Thales Australia, Attorney-General Christian Porter issued a certificate which suppressed a report from the Auditor-General into whether a defence procurement represented value for money.  Porter censored the information both on national security and commercial interests grounds.

In its first budget, the Abbott government announced it intended to abolish the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, along with the positions of information commissioner and freedom of information commissioner.  The Senate withstood that attempt but funding and staff were slashed and the information commissioner worked from home.

“On water” matters, “operational” matters, “national security”, “commercial-in-confidence”, “under investigation”, “report to government not by government”, “limited tender” – the language of secrecy abounds.

While Mr Pezzullo may consider his conduct in handling his department beyond reproach, pretty much every appraisal of it, from the Auditor-General or commissioned independent consultants or staff surveys, has been scathing.

In April this year, a petition signed by public servants expressed no confidence in Mr Pezzullo and his senior leaders and called for an end to years of “waste, mismanagement and chaos” at the Home Affairs Department.

“The secretary, Mr Michael Pezzullo, and his executive must be held responsible for actively driving the intolerable situation that has developed, with constant attacks on staff.”

As the judge in a recent case brought by the Australian Building and Construction Commission against the CFMMEU said:

“I hold the clear view that this is a case where the ABCC should be publicly exposed as having wasted public money without a proper basis for doing so…..there are cases at the extreme where I think it is right for judges to be critical, because if judges are not, then nobody will be….if you want to make a case that the ABCC should not be criticised, well, you know, let’s hear – bring it on”

We need everyone – judges, media, politicians and the public – to stem this tide of avoidance of scrutiny.

I would suggest that, when parliament resumes, Pezzullo better be ready to ‘bring it on’.

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22 comments

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  1. Cath

    we can tell him to pull his head in, but will be to no avail

  2. New England Cocky

    From the media reports that I have read Mr Pezzullo appears to expound or practice all the trappings of a neo-fascist xenophobe in a fake Christian Lazy Nasty misgovernment. The sooner he is incarcerated on Manus without communications, medical or community facilities the better Australia will be.

    The only beneficiaries of weak and incompetent governments are the foreign owned multinational corporations stripping Australian voters of their natural resources and so common wealth with impunity from Australian laws and with the collaboration of political ideologues out of touch with reality.

  3. Perkin Warbeck

    Pezzulo is Dutton’s mouthpiece. News today is that he has done the same thing to other MPs, just a quiet word along the lines of ‘STFU or else!’
    Is anybody surprised?
    As I have pointed out elsewhere, Dutton’s nickname in the QLd Police was reportedly ‘Thumper.’ I doubt it was bestowed because he resembled Bambi’s little bunny friend.
    But…the burghers of Dickson already know all this, and presumably voted for someone who represents their views…

  4. johnyperth

    Welcome to Australia.
    Australia the new police state!!
    A normal conservative police state!!

  5. Josephus

    Kaye your writing is a light in the dark horror of this government. I am not even sure a Labor one would be much better. Perhaps you should move your domestic arrangements time to time and change some personal details such as phone and e mail.

  6. Vikingduk

    What a disgraceful, disgusting nation we are. That these snot sucking, lying, deceitful traitors can, inexorably, turn this nation into a fascist police state ably assisted by the cheap whores of MSM, supported by a range of braindead, greedy, evil sewer dwellers, leaves me totally ashamed to be an Australian citizen, ashamed to be classed as a human.

    Here we are, right in the guts of a climate emergency, ruled by a mob of absolute effing @@@@, the only competency they show is the ability to lie, deceive, look after their rich mates and f#ck the rest of us.

  7. Jan

    Vikingduk – Totally agree with your analysis

  8. Judith Bacon

    Pezullo works for the public, not Peter Dutton. Seems he has forgotten that.

  9. Michael Taylor

    Wish I could agree with you, Judith.

    When new to the public service I always assumed that we worked for the clients we serve. It was not until I was transferred to Canberra that I learnt that we actually worked for our particular minister.

  10. Wam

    Sorry to correct you but from where his head is you should be saying pull it out.

  11. Keitha Granville

    just who the hell do these people work for ??? Public Servants ?? I think not

  12. Jack Cade

    I have been watching, on Netflix, Ken Burns’ excellent ‘The West’. It is difficult to avoid concluding that the first settlers to the USA were deeply unpleasant people. Australia was settled only because the America’s seemed to be closed to the English rejects. And what happened to the Aboriginal tribes here was not too different from what happened to the native peoples of North America.
    The point I’m making is that the same ‘deeply unpleasant people’ can now be seen to have prevailed and flourished on both continents…

  13. Kaye Lee

    That case by the ABCC against the CFMMEU also saw overkill from the AFP. Two union guys paid a social visit to a mate at a worksite. In no time four AFP officers turned up and charged them with a breach of right of entry laws. They were having a cup of tea. Haven’t the AFP got higher priorities?

  14. wam

    Thales is french. Wonder if they make subs???
    I hope Albo uses parliamentary privilege to expose the pynenut’s union busting choice of submarines 250% dearer and 10 years longer before starting work in france NOT here. But he wont because labor pollies respect colleagues even without reciprocation.
    ps don’t know what the scrawls under the mainstream news is called but did one suggest trump recruited kim jong un for the CIA???

  15. David Bruce

    Yes, Thales is French and they made the pitot tubes for the Air France Airbus 330 which crashed in the Atlantic after they iced up…

  16. Kaye Lee

    As always, there’s a connection….

    one of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s key political confidants was recently hired by the French state-owned shipbuilder Naval Group to help improve a rocky relationship with the Defence department, and to secure a crucial Strategic Partnering Agreement (SPA).

    “ECG Advisory Solutions”, a lobbying firm founded by former Liberal party candidate David Gazard, has been advising Naval Group since last year on how to handle the difficult SPA negotiations with Australia.

    Mr Gazard, who was chief of staff to former New South Wales Liberal leader John Brogden, began his friendship with Mr Morrison when he was the Liberal Party’s State Director for the 2003 election.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-11/scott-morrisons-friend-hired-by-french-during-submarine-talks/10797920

    Sean Costello, who worked as chief of staff to the then defence minister David Johnston between June 2014 and January 2015, as the government planned its $50bn future submarines program, left Johnston’s department and two months later became the chief executive of the Australian arm of French submarine manufacturer DCNS, a Senate committee heard.

    That company, now known as Naval Group, eventually won the submarines contract in 2016.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/sep/18/defence-officials-turn-lobbyists-sometimes-weeks-after-leaving-government

  17. Kerri

    Has there ever been a more self righteous, delusional public servant than Mike Pezzullo??
    He is an overpaid pencil pusher and is bloated with self belief.
    He should be sacked for his astounding hubris.
    But then there are many who should suffer that fate.
    As for Dutton? The first TV series of The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy? The Vogon who stomps downs the hallways shouting “resistance is useless”
    His mental equal.

  18. Carol Taylor

    Based on the fact that public servants work for the Minister, it could therefore be assumed that the phone call was done with Dutton’s knowledge and approval, and indeed even at his instruction. I find it highly unlikely that an employee would phone an elected representative to voice his disapproval of that Senator’s opinion without his boss (Minister Dutton) knowing all about it. To be noted, is that this wasn’t the first time that Pezzullo had contacted and torn strips off a Senator. He’d done this previously to Senator Jordon Steele-John who stated on Twitter, “He did the same thing to me over my criticisms of the AAbill and the secrecy of his department”. We therefore not only have the MSM being intimidated into silence, but Senators as well.

  19. Michael Taylor

    Carol, bingo. Ten out of ten.

  20. Kaye Lee

    Carol,

    If Dutton didn’t know then that is even worse.

    “On taking the job, in late 2014, Pezzullo took a cleaver to the structures, culture and identity of the old immigration department. He put protégées from Defence into top jobs. He introduced new dress codes and drug and alcohol tests, and told officials the department had to get much tougher; the “care bears”, as he later called them, would have to go. He implied the culture was stuck in the past and said he was making changes that could never be reversed. Senior employees, many of whom had worked in Immigration all their careers, rose up in quiet rage. Thirty members of the Senior Executive Service, more than a quarter of the total, left the department. It was an exodus unmatched in the public service in a generation.”

    https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2018/february/1517403600/james-button/dutton-s-dark-victory

  21. Matters Not

    Yes there’s the rules, regulations etc re the appointment of senior public servants and then there’s the objective reality (of how it actually operates). At the State level, Heads of Departments are often appointed by the Premier of the day and given their operational orders – PIs and the like (and don’t they know it.) Yes the Minister might be their nominal boss but more often than not, it’s the public service head that has a direct line to the Premier. But it depends (as always). Generalisations are not always sustainable.

    An example. When Abbott became PM, he sacked the then Head of Treasury (Martin Parkinson) and he did so over the protestations of Treasurer Hockey who wanted him to remain. Abbott had clashed with Parkinson over climate policy – Parkinson being inaugural Secretary of the Department of Climate Change. Needless to say Parkinson exited but was not forgotten. But Parkinson knew the PM was boss.

    With the demise of Abbott and the rise of Turnbull, Parkinson was resurrected – albeit in a different (but more powerful role.) And with the passing of Turnbull, Parkinson is still in the box seat. If the PM of the day likes you then you will survive and against virtually all headwinds – including those generated by a Minister whose own position is at the pleasure of the PM.

    As a public servant, Pezzullo is in a class of his own. He worked for Kim Beazley and in my view would have fitted easily into a role with Shorten. He has talent and arrogance – (he’s not alone) – would see himself as being above petty, party political bickering. Pezzullo’s big mistake was to ‘advise’ crossbenchers who are now crucial to the passing of certain legislation who weren’t partial to that advice. He’s now been whipped with a feather.

    As an aside, much of politics is theatre – there to inflame the punters – but largely superficial. Who was Albo’s best mate in Parliament? Who is the Treasurer’s respected mate … etc, etc. Who do they drink with?

  22. Wayne Turner

    Mike the maggot,the coalition stooge fascist.

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