Former APS Commissioner to probe texts as senior public servant stands aside

Home Affairs Secretary Mike Pezzullo has been asked to stand aside pending an independent review of texts he’s alleged to have sent to a Liberal Party powerbroker.

Lynelle Briggs

The texts to former NSW Liberal Party Deputy President Scott Briggs, published in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers, will be investigated by former APS commissioner Lynelle Briggs.

Mr Pezzullo has been asked to stand aside during the investigation into the emails, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Monday.

“This morning, the Home Affairs Minister asked the Secretary of her Department, Michael Pezzullo, to stand aside while an Australian Public Service Commission investigation is undertaken into the allegations reported overnight,” Mr Albanese said in a statement.

“Mr Pezzullo has agreed to step aside pending the independent review.”

Ms Briggs, who was also a commissioner on the Royal Commission into aged care, will lead the investigation, the PM said.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said she was aware of the reports regarding communication between Mr Pezzullo and Mr Briggs and had referred the matter to the APSC.

Mr Pezzullo, a career public servant, has led Home Affairs since 2017 and currently heads the Department responsible for strategy, planning and policy related to issues affecting domestic security, immigration and borders.

He was previously Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, where he oversaw the integration of Home Affairs with the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) in 2015.

Mr Briggs has held a number of roles within the Liberal party, and is the former vice-president of the NSW branch.

Stephanie Foster has been appointed to act in Mr Pezzullo’s role.

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