Tour de Force by Roman Quaedvlieg

‘After thirty-two years in law enforcement, I was on the run from reporters.’

Roman Quaedvlieg was the Chief Police Officer of ACT Policing between 2010 and 2013.  In 2013 he joined the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) as deputy chief executive officer.  In October 2014 he succeeded Mike Pezzullo as chief executive officer.  When the Australian Border Force (ABF) came into existence in 2015, Quaedvlieg became the inaugural Commissioner of the Australian Border Force and the Comptroller-General of Customs. 

On 29 May 2017 Roman Quaedvlieg was on leave pending an active investigation conducted by the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity into his alleged abuse of power.  The investigation examined his assistance in obtaining employment at Sydney Airport for a person he was in a relationship with and concealing that relationship.  Quaedvlieg declined to resign, stating that to do so would be ‘tantamount to a concession of culpability’. 

In March 2018 the Governor-General, acting on the advice of the Australian cabinet, terminated Quaedvlieg’s appointment as commissioner.

I knew this before I read Mr Quaedvlieg’s biography, but I was curious to read his account despite the subtitle:

‘The explosive journey from street cop to chief of the Australian Border Force.’

Anything labelled as ‘explosive’ is generally, in my view, not worth reading.

But I live in the ACT and worked in the Australian Public Service for over 30 years until 2009.  I was curious about the merger between Customs and Immigration and interested in reading how a well-regarded and decorated policeman came to be terminated from his employment.

After a brief prologue, the book is divided into three parts.  The first part deals with Mr Quaedvlieg’s career as a police officer; the second part deals with Mr Quaedvlieg’s time at Customs and the third part deals with the balance of his public sector career.

My main interest was in the formation of the Australian Border Force and then in the circumstances surrounding Mr Quaedvlieg’s sacking. I finished the book with some concerns about the management of both.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith