Forget DIMIA spin doctor Sandi Logan’s weekend effort to portray a kinder, gentler – even vaguely responsive and accountable – Immigration Department and Secretary .

Let’s look more closely at the man at the top, Andrew Metcalfe. An email from a former departmental officer gives us a steer:

Why hasn’t the media had a close look at the CV of the
current DIMIA Secretary who at the direction of John Howard is
miraculously changing the DIMIA culture with new screen savers and
water bottles?

Much is made of the proposition that the “culture” that resulted in the
Rau/Solon fiascos and is now in need of immediate change, can be
sourced back to the way Philip Ruddock handled the portfolio and
imposed his will upon it.

A cursory look at Secretary Metcalfe’s CV will show a not insignificant
stint as Ruddock’s chief of staff and a stint as First Assistant
Secretary Border Control and Compliance Division at the time of Solon’s
brush with DIMIA. This division of DIMIA was responsible for
implementing deportation/removal policy, procedure and staff training
in the area of “immigration compliance.” As a result Secretary Metcalfe
oversaw a process that had a major impact on the compliance/enforcement
“culture” that now needs to be changed.

In both career paths Secretary Metcalfe either influenced the
development of the “insidious culture” that now has to be changed or
was directly responsible for its implementation.

Indeed, it’s worth looking at Metcalfe’s CV in more detail. Is there a carefully constructed biographical spin story being constructed around Andrew Metcalfe?

The Canberra Times recently profiled the DIMIA Secretary as part
of a series of profiles by staff reporter Paul Malone of current
departmental heads. It’s not available online but, unlike the other
articles, it was strangely silent on Metcalfe’s public service career
before his current job.

Metcalfe’s time in charge of Border Control and Compliance are
particularly interesting. What does he know about Operation Relex, the
people smuggling disruption program? Interestingly, he then went on to
a senior national security position in Prime Minister & Cabinet.

The kinder, gentler, halfway competent face of Immigration is also one
of the most important people in the Howard Government’s inner circle of
national security advisers and operators.

And we know that their approach to public administration is “whatever
it takes” – and “whatever it takes to cover it up afterwards.”