Print/Text Feature Writing Long

After the closure of the Department of Immigration in December 2017, James Button did a rare deep dive into our public service. A former public servant told Button he was worried “that the arrogant gods have taken charge and the angels have left the building”. This is a brilliantly written piece about Australia’s immigration story, exploring how changing policies reflect our evolving values and worldview. Button spoke to 25 former Immigration Department officials and the current head of Department of Home Affairs, Mike Pezzullo. Senator Louise Pratt cited the article when questioning Pezzullo in Senate Estimates.

James Button is a former deputy editor and Europe correspondent of The Age, and the author of Speechless: A Year in my Father’s Business and Comeback: The Fall and Rise of Geelong. This is his third Walkley Award for feature writing.

Judges’ comments:

“James Button’s masterly writing and forensic deep dive into the department that runs Australia’s immigration program is outstanding, both for its penetrating analysis and the portrait it paints of the powerful personality at the apex of that organisation, departmental secretary Mike Pezzullo. A number of entries tackled migration policy but no others did so with the sophistication and depth of insight of this writer.”