Sack Pezzullo, but Home Affairs and Operation Sovereign Borders also needs to go

The revelations of Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo’s constant contact with a Liberal Party power broker are damning, but not surprising. Pezzullo’s allegiances and his power-hungry empire building have been on display for years.

Pezzullo has been a ruthless advocate of the most brutal anti-refugee border protection policies implemented by successive Liberal and Labor governments.

He has overseen the creation of Australia’s Border Force and Operation Sovereign Borders and the militarisation of immigration detention; he infamously told a senate estimates hearing that the majority of reports of abuse of asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru were not serious; he was condemned for a pro-war speech in 2021, when it seemed he would follow Peter Dutton from Home Affairs secretary to become the departmental head of defence.

There is no doubt Pezzullo should have been sacked years ago. Ironically, given the revelations of Pezzullo’s closeness with the Liberal Party, it was Labor who first elevated Pezzullo in the federal bureaucracy and it is Labor who has kept him there.   

“Labor should seize the opportunity to sack Pezzullo,” said Ian Rintoul spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “But Pezzullo is a symptom of the sick system that Labor has kept in place. It is not just Pezzullo that needs to go. Pezzullo epitomises the punitive mentality that characterises the Department of Home Affairs, and is bolstered by Labor’s on-going support of Operation Sovereign Borders.

“The virus of Fortress Australia that is spreading internationally has got to be stamped out.”

Home Affairs is already under scrutiny for contracts related to offshore processing, but Labor’s inquiry has excluded any review of offshore detention itself. Yet Labor will take no responsibility for over 70 asylum seekers and refugees, many needing urgent medical attention, remaining in PNG. The recent Labor conference declined to support policy for a Royal Commission into immigration detention.

“Pezzullo’s exchanges with Liberal party power broker, Scott Briggs, has exposed a system that not only lacks accountability, but is rotten to the core,” said Rintoul, “Our first concern should be with the victims of mandatory and indefinite detention onshore, and offshore detention; and the victims of fast track refugee assessments. These policies have has got to be scrapped along with Pezzullo. “

“The victims of offshore detention and fast track must be allowed to stay in Australia on permanent visas.”

For more information: contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713