Malcolm Turnbull has appointed his chief of staff Greg Moriarty, who has a strong background in defence, foreign affairs and counter-terrorism, as the new secretary of the Defence department.
Moriarty, who replaces the recently-retired Dennis Richardson, worked in defence in 1986-95, primarily in the Defence Intelligence Organisation.
He served in the headquarters of the United States Central Command in the Persian Gulf during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
While in the foreign affairs department Moriarty was senior negotiator with the Peace Monitoring Group on Bougainville, ambassador to Iran, ambassador to Indonesia, and a deputy secretary.
When he was ambassador to Iran he gave two lengthy briefings to George W Bush, in 2006 and 2007, at the Americans’ request.
In 2015 he became the first Commonwealth Counter-Terrorism Co-ordinator. He joined Malcolm Turnbull’s office in August 2016 as adviser on international and national security, before becoming chief of staff.
He is described as having a good policy mind and being very steady under pressure. He is said to have been well regarded by Labor’s Stephen Smith when Smith was foreign minister.
Moriarty’s name emerged publicly quite late in the speculation about Richardson’s replacement. The field also included Mike Pezzullo, who heads immigration and border protection, and Peter Jennings, director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
Presumably Pezzullo will now remain to head Peter Dutton’s new home affairs department, the core of which is the current immigration department.
Turnbull’s new chief of staff will be Peter Woolcott, currently high commissioner to New Zealand. Woolcott has previously served as ambassador for the environment, where he dealt with international climate change issues, permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva and ambassador for disarmament, ambassador for people smuggling issues and ambassador to Italy. In 2002-04 he was chief of staff to then foreign minister Alexander Downer.
Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.