Finally the axe has fallen.
And now the fall from grace of one of the most powerful mandarins in the country should send a clear message that our public service leaders - particularly those who wield so much power and influence - must always be held to the highest standards.
As the secretary for Home Affairs on an annual salary of $914,659, Mike Pezzullo held the keys to our national security. His role should have been independent and apolitical. But it wasn't.
Over years, revealed through encrypted messaging with Liberal powerbroker Scott Briggs, Mr Pezzullo "unloaded" on politicians he didn't like, promoted the cause of those he did, and provided candid and disturbing views on departmental policy and political appointments.
Taken at face value the messages showed Mr Pezzullo grossly veered away from the required impartiality of one heading a government department.
While the exchanges had a veneer of gossip, they also were calculating in the desire for particular outcomes; they exposed a desire to use high office and influence to shape political power. He has now been found to have used his role to "seek to gain an advantage or benefit for himself".
The Australian Public Service Commission states the requirement for all employees to have five key values: impartiality, commitment to service, accountability, respectfulness and ethicality.
It also states that the service should be "apolitical" and provide "the government with advice that is frank, honest, timely and based on the best available evidence".
As a career public servant, and although he had worked under previous Labor governments, Mr Pezzullo found the Liberal-National regime particularly sympathetic to his department's carefully-constructed avoidance of public scrutiny.
Notably during his years as the architect of Australian Border Force, and then later when appointed to the head of the behemoth Home Affairs in 2017, he enshrined unprecedented departmental secrecy.
Information was withheld "for operational reasons" particularly during the controversial Operation Sovereign Borders, where all so-called "on-water" activity involving the Border Force inevitably was filtered and distilled into pro-government talking points.
When "turn back the boats" became wedge politics, details of the ways and means this was achieved became steadily less transparent.
The ABF Operation Sovereign Borders press "briefings" became a standing joke, raising more questions than answers.
Mr Pezzullo had the opportunity at this point, as the departmental head, to set the anchor, to deliver objectivity free of a political agenda, and offer appropriate clarity.
However, he failed to do so. And now, with his departure, we begin to understand why.
As the first head of Australian Border Force and former ACT Chief Police Officer Roman Quaedvlieg observed in his biography: "I had learned that in Canberra, qualifications meant little when it came to the appointment of agency heads and secretaries".
"Pezzullo marched in tune with his political master."
Mr Pezzullo's position has been untenable since the messages first became public more than two months ago. He stood aside in late September but continued to collect a generous salary while the inquiry continued.
The role now for the current government is to restore public trust and commit to utmost transparency. Without it, we will simply be served up more of the same.
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