Claims Border Force ‘a shambles’ as Quaedvlieg saga drags on
A lawyer who spent more than 30 years at the Immigration Department says there has been an exodus of senior staff from the newly formed Home Affairs organisation, and that there are deep problems within Australian Border Force as its Commissioner remains under investigation.
Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg has accrued about $500,000 in salary payments since going on leave in May last year, when an external investigation began into his personal conduct.
Greg Phillipson, who resigned as a senior Immigration Department lawyer in June last year, says his former colleagues have described an organisation that is now in crisis.
"There's a lot of concerns held within Border Force about whether it's structured appropriately, whether it's working well as an organisation," Mr Phillipson told 7:30.
"Some people have described it very recently to me as a shambles."
Mr Phillipson said members of the Australian Border Force, which was formed in 2015, are openly acknowledging the problems within the organisation, which has been without its Commissioner for nine months.
"It certainly really has contributed to uncertainty within the Border Force and the lack of leadership at that very high level is unsettling," Mr Phillipson said.
The retired lawyer says many experienced staff have now left the Home Affairs Department, which only began operating in December.
"Either they were pushed or they voted with their feet, and I'm talking about the senior echelons of the department," he said.
Decision on Quaedvlieg's fate expected 'shortly'
After two separate inquiries into Mr Quaedvlieg's personal conduct, his future now rests with new Attorney-General Christian Porter.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has expressed his frustration with the protracted and expensive investigation.
"I'm disappointed the matter has taken so long to be resolved but as you can understand, it's a matter that has to be dealt with by public service processes," he said in Canberra.
"The report on Mr Quaedvlieg's circumstances is with the Attorney-General and I expect him to make a decision on it shortly."
In a statement to 7:30, Mr Quaedvlieg said he also hopes there's a speedy resolution to the situation.
"I appreciate and understand the extensive media and public interest in this matter, not the least of which is the length of time the investigation has taken, a concern that I obviously share," he said.
"My preference is to allow the Attorney-General to consider the material that is before him and make an objective decision on that material.
"I will make further public statements at the conclusion and conferment of his decision."