Mike Zissler during his vist to the Aboriginal community of Utopia.
Mike Zissler during his vist to the Aboriginal community of Utopia. (ABC TV)
The Federal Government has today confirmed that Mike Zissler left his role as Operational Commander of the Northern Territory Emergency Response in June, despite only being appointed to the job in March.
Mr Zissler took over as Operation Commander from Major General Dave Chalmers, who finished his stint in February to return to the Australian Defence Force.
In late March, Mr Zissler headed to the Utopia community, about 200 kilometres from Alice Springs, to hear first-hand how locals were dealing with intervention measures.
"My task is to listen, to try and understand," he told those present.
He also revealed the intervention had had unintended consequences.
"I'm sure through the intervention we never intended to offend as we clearly have," he said.
"We never intended to divide as I think you're demonstrating here today there is division.
"That is not our intention and for that I'm sorry and I'm sure you know, the Minister regrets some of those things."
A spokesman for the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs today said Mr Zissler was only ever employed on a fixed-term basis.
"The department sought a short-term replacement for the position of Operational Commander of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) Operations Centre," the spokesman said.
"Mr Mike Zissler was appointed Operational Commander ... for a fixed period to 30 June 2009, when the responsibility for the NTER was integrated into the department.
"The integration of the Operations Centre is consistent with moving the NTER to a sustainable development phase."
Indigenous Affairs Minister, Jenny Macklin, has refused to comment saying it is a departmental issue.
Barbara Shaw, from the Rollback the Intervention group in Alice Springs, says the Government's move will make the intervention less transparent.
"Having an independent person there, I guess it keeps an eye on things and how it rolls out," she said.
"But if it's going back to the Government then it's going to be more controlling, you know, it's not going to be fair."