Australian prime minister fires senior government official after inquiry’s findings

FILE PHOTO: Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese speaks during the bilateral meeting with Indonesia's President Joko Widodo on the sidelines of the 43rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, 07 September 2023. BAGUS INDAHONO/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

In Australia, senior government official Michael Pezzullo was sacked on Monday after an inquiry determined that he had violated impartiality regulations. Pezzullo, who heads the Department of Home Affairs, faced allegations of interfering in politics to promote politicians attacking opponents and advocating for media censorship.

The inquiry was initiated following an investigation by two newspapers and a television programme. They claimed that Pezzullo had sent messages on Signal and WhatsApp over a five year period containing the remarks.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese stated in a release that the inquiry had revealed violations of the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct. This code mandates bureaucrats to remain impartial, non-political and avoid conflicts of interest.

“Mr. Pezzullo’s actions constituted a breach of trust, he has failed to uphold the standards expected from public servants,” said Albanese.

Although Pezzullo has not yet responded to his dismissal, his termination represents a triumph for the Albanese government, which has criticized the former bureaucrat.

Pezzullo had an alliance with the government, the Liberal Party and was regarded as an influential figure in the public service by some people.

Albanese stressed that the government is dedicated to reinstating trustworthiness within the service. “We will not tolerate any actions that undermine confidence in our government, ” he stated.

The dismissal of Pezzullo is also anticipated to have an impact on the Department of Home Affairs which handles security and border security matters. Pezzullo possessed expertise as a bureaucrat and his departure will create a void within the department.

While in wait for the government to provide an update soon, it remains uncertain who will assume the role of head, at the Department of Home Affairs following Pezzullo’s departure.

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