Immigration names new chiefs, staff to be ’empowered’

The revamped Immigration Department has outlined its new top structure, with secretary Michael Pezzullo telling the Senate today he wants to empower staff reportedly nervous about the changes.

Australian Geospatial Organisation director Maria Fernandez will join the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s senior leadership team from April 27, as deputy secretary in charge of “intelligence and capability”.

Immigration secretary Michael Pezzullo (pictured) outlined the new top structure — which includes four women in deputy secretary roles and a wealth of experience in defence, national security, intelligence and law enforcement — in a statement to a Senate estimates hearing today.

Pezzullo also confirmed that while Parliament is yet to pass legislation to enable the “integration” of Immigration with the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, the two would begin acting as a single organisation from March 2 with six divisions:

“As the committee would be aware, the government intends to bring together the department and the service, and to create within the department the Australian Border Force, or ABF. The ABF will act as a single frontline operational agency to enforce customs, immigration and maritime laws, and protect our border. To this end, from the 2nd of March, 2015, the Immigration and Border Protection portfolio will begin to operate in a fully integrated structure that delivers on this intention, short of the ABF being created by law.”

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