Jul 3, 2017

Australian Border Force head ‘on leave’

One of the government's most senior bureaucrats is on leave while "a matter" is investigated.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

“May God bless you, may God bless your work, may God bless the country you are helping to protect and prosper,” said Tony Abbott when he "launched" Australia's new paramilitary border protection body, Australian Border Force, in June 2015. Standing by his side was the inaugural commissioner, Roman Quaedvlieg.

It's fair to say the good lord has been sparing in his blessings since then. Within two months, the spectacular debacle of Operation Fortitude humiliated the body and raised serious questions about both the role it saw for itself and its powers. The savage restrictions on free speech and whistleblowing contained within the body's establishing legislation came under repeated assault until the government was forced to back down last October. The Australian National Audit Office found instances of the ABF using its powers inappropriately. The merger with the Department of Immigration has coincided with massive staff turnover, slumping morale, industrial action and constant rejections of the departmental executive's paltry enterprise bargaining offer. 

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