Into exile. Former national security adviser Margot McCarthy has been sent packing from Prime Minister and Cabinet. McCarthy is a veteran national security public servant with decades of experience in Defence, Intelligence (she was a deputy director of Intelligence in then then-Defence Signals Directorate) who succeeded Duncan Lewis as national security adviser under the Rudd government in 2012. This role was rebadged under the Abbott government, and McCarthy became associate secretary, national security and international policy. Associate secretary is a slightly nebulous position that sits between band 3 senior executive service and the role of secretary. However, McCarthy has now moved out of PM&C altogether and been replaced by her former deputy, Allan McKinnon. She’s recently commenced at Social Services, running Ageing and Aged Care — and at the lower rank of deputy secretary. It’s quite a shift from the centre of power to Tuggeranong, the slightly bleak Canberra town centre where DSS is located, and quite a shift in role for a national security veteran. And a peculiar action for a government that says it is intensely focused on national security. Then again, given her background, perhaps McCarthy was too focused on actual security issues and not enough on hype and stunts.

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Peter Fray

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