Agile leadership trumps long service in new Border Protection team

Leadership in the new Department of Immigration and Border Protection — same name; new flavour — requires diverse experience rather than long service, its secretary says. Those who’ve given decades to the old Immigration and Customs are less useful.

The new generation of senior leaders in charge of the consolidated Immigration and Border Protection portfolio were chosen for their diverse experience in multiple departments, over those with long careers in either of the two entities that have been taken apart and put back together as a new mega-department.

Secretary Michael Pezzullo said “upwards of a dozen” senior executive service members had decided to leave the department since he was elevated to the top job from his previous post as Customs CEO, in response to a question from Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

Of those, he said a number “probably in the single-digit to low double-digit[s]” had resigned from the Australian Public Service altogether, rather than apply for a transfer, and said the department would try to confirm the numbers for Hanson-Young by the end of the day.

In a long opening statement Pezzullo informed the legal and constitutional affairs committee that the next time they saw him and his officers, they would represent “a new Department of Immigration and Border Protection” with “expanded responsibilities” for immigration, citizenship, customs, border protection and maritime security. The Customs and Border Protection Service would be “dis-established” on June 30, and replaced with the Australian Border Force the following day.

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.