Mike Pezzullo a winner in public service shake-up unveiled by Malcolm Turnbull
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Mike Pezzullo a winner in public service shake-up unveiled by Malcolm Turnbull

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is overhauling the top ranks of the federal public service, naming Immigration boss Michael Pezzullo as head of the new Home Affairs Department.

Mr Turnbull said Mr Pezzullo would lead the transition of the Immigration and Border Protection into the new Home Affairs Department as it is established in 2018.

Winner: Michael Pezzullo will lead Peter Dutton's new Home Affairs Department.

Winner: Michael Pezzullo will lead Peter Dutton's new Home Affairs Department. Credit:Andrew Meares

The expected move will see the controversial secretary leading the new portfolio under incoming minister Peter Dutton.

In one of the biggest public service shake-ups in years, prompted by the departures of Martin Bowles from Health and Gordon de Brouwer from Environment and Energy, Mr Turnbull announced nine other appointments on Thursday.

Incoming Health Department boss Glenys Beauchamp.

Incoming Health Department boss Glenys Beauchamp. Credit:Vince Caligiuri

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Mr Bowles is moving to the private sector in November, while Dr de Brouwer is retiring on Friday.

Industry, Innovation and Science boss Glenys Beauchamp will step up to lead Health and Ageing, while Finn Pratt will leave Social Services to become secretary of Environment and Energy, a relative step down in size and influence.

Heather Smith is moving from Communications and the Arts to become secretary of the larger Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

Kathryn Campbell will leave the massive Human Services Department to become secretary of Social Services. Her move follows a rocky period overseeing the robo-debt debacle.

Former ASIO deputy director-general Kerri Hartland is heading to Employment.

Former ASIO deputy director-general Kerri Hartland is heading to Employment.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Renée Leon will leave Employment, moving up to take over Human Services.

After a series of outspoken speeches critical of the public service leaders and senior government staffers, Mike Mrdak is leaving Infrastructure and Regional Development to become secretary of Communications and the Arts.

"These secretaries have extensive careers in the Australian Public Service at senior levels, with responsibility for a number of significant government reforms and programs," Mr Turnbull said.

"I thank these secretaries for their continued leadership in the APS."

Mr Turnbull said Kerri Hartland would become secretary of Employment and Steven Kennedy would will take over as secretary of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

Ms Hartland was the first woman to serve as deputy director-general of security agency ASIO and is a former deputy secretary of the departments of Human Services and Finance. She remains the only ASIO officer to be publicly named other than the director-general.

Dr Kennedy is a deputy secretary in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet overseeing the government's innovation and transformation agenda.

He previously served as deputy secretary in departments including Industry, Innovation and Science, Environment, and Climate Change.

The new five-year appointments will commence on September 18.

In a separate announcement, the government named James Renwick, SC, as the independent national security legislation monitor. Dr Renwick has acted in the role since early 2017.

Social Services Minister Christian Porter said he had been privileged to work with Mr Pratt.

"Mr Pratt is a committed public servant with more than 30 years' experience in social policy, program management and service delivery and has served in secretary and CEO roles under both Coalition and Labor governments," he said.

Transport Minister Darren Chester paid tribute to Mr Mrdak, who is leaving the department after more than eight years.

"He has a passion for regional issues and I'm confident his experience with major infrastructure projects will serve him well as the new secretary for the Department of Communications and the Arts," Mr Chester said.

"I look forward to working with Dr Steven Kennedy, who also has an outstanding record in the public service, as we continue to deliver the government's record $75 billion infrastructure investment."

Former minister Eric Abetz welcomed Ms Leon's appointment at Human Services.

"Having had the opportunity to work closely with Ms Leon in my time as employment minister, I found her to be highly competent and capable public servant with an indefatigable attention to detail – all traits that will suit her well as the secretary of the Department of Human Services," he said.

Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Arthur Sinodinos said Ms Beauchamp had worked "tirelessly and assiduously" for several ministers.

"Under Glenys' leadership the Turnbull government's national innovation and science agenda was developed, and she has overseen key developments in science such as establishing a long term vision for the Australian Synchrotron," he said.

Labor welcomed her appointment to Health.

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Tom McIlroy is a political reporter for the Financial Review in the federal press gallery at Parliament House.