In the wake of Crikey report on a quarter-billion dollar deficit in its 2015-16 financial accounts, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection is rushing a corrigendum to its annual report, it told a Senate estimates hearing this afternoon, after senior public servants were grilled about the apparent massive loss.

The department’s annual report for 2015-16 showed a huge difference between the department’s actual spending on internal functions — nearly $3 billion — and its budget allocation of $2.638 billion.


Immigration secretary Mike Pezzullo and his staff, in response to questions by Labor’s Kim Carr, claimed that the department’s annual report mistakenly failed to include provision for depreciation, which would be the subject of a corrigendum that would be rapidly issued.

Annual report financial statements are signed off by the Australian National Audit Office based on information provided by the department, and the financial reports include the $2.986 billion outcome, but the ANAO does not sign off on the rest of the document, in which the department compared that outcome to its 2015-16 budget allocation. The department — a merged entity consisting of the old Immigration Department and Customs — was supposed to make significant savings this year.

The department insists that its budget only blew out by about $20 million and that was primarily due to industrial action by the Community and Public Sector Union, which Pezzullo earlier accused of deliberately undermining border security through “guerrilla” industrial reaction. — Bernard Keane