Pezzullo inspired by powerful post-war mandarins for Immigration’s new way

Immigration and Border Protection secretary Michael Pezzullo spoke last night at the ANU on his portfolio’s new direction, the machinery-of-government changes and why mandarins should look to their powerful predecessors.

Mandarins should look to the example set by their powerful post-war predecessors, says Immigration and Border Protection secretary Michael Pezzullo, who further spelled out his long-term policy vision for the portfolio to go with its major machinery-of-government changes in a speech at the ANU last night.

The radically reformed department that is still emerging would invest heavily in policy research to continue developing its new approaches, he said, with a new strategic policy and planning division that would work with academia, think tanks and the private sector.

Since gaining his first secretarial appointment last year, Pezzullo has firmly put his stamp on DIBP — ruffling a few feathers — and taken a lead role in publicly redefining its mission and the tools it needs to accomplish it. Several observers have previously compared him to the powerful mandarins of old, in that articulating a broad policy vision for the future of immigration, linked to an overarching historical narrative, could be seen as a job more often done by the minister. “The Department of Immigration of our collective memory will be no more, after 70 long years of service.”

It appears to be a comparison he relishes. In another significant speech, to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute last December, Pezzullo compared the integration of Customs into the department and the creation of Australian Border Force to the building of the Defence Department by one of those steely post-war bureaucrats, Sir Arthur Tange. He continued that theme:

FREE membership to The Mandarin

Receive unlimited access, get all the latest public sector news and features, plus The Juice, our daily news update sent direct to your inbox.

The Mandarin is where Australia's public sector leaders discuss their work and the issues faced within modern bureaucracy. Join today to discover the latest in public administration thinking and news from our dedicated reporters, current and former agency heads and senior executives.