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Tuesday, 14 August 2012
Page: 5083


Senator RYAN (Victoria) (15:48): I move:

That the Senate—

   (a)   notes that:

      (i)   Senator Bob Carr's electorate office in Bligh House, Sydney, also served as the principal place of business of R.J. Carr Pty Ltd, his former lobbying company, until 24 May 2012,

      (ii)   on 24 May 2012, Senator Ryan raised this issue at the 2012-13 Budget estimates hearing of the Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee,

      (iii)   on 24 May 2012, the principal place of business of R.J. Carr Pty Ltd was transferred to an address in Burwood,

      (iv)   on 30 May 2012, Senator Bob Carr told the 2012-13 Budget estimates hearing of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee that the 'process of excising that reference from the record of ASIC is a matter between my business accountant and ASIC' and 'just an office detail', and

      (v)   clause 2.9 of the Prime Minister's 'Standards of Ministerial Ethics', dated September 2010 requires 'that Ministers divest themselves of investments and other interests in any public or private company or business'; and

   (b)   calls on Senator Bob Carr to table any advice he has received and relied upon regarding his compliance with the 'Standards of Ministerial Ethics' in this matter.

Mr President, I seek leave to make a short statement.

Leave granted.

Senator RYAN: Senator Carr's disclosure to the Register of Senators' Interests shows that he has retained his shareholding in RJ Carr Pty Ltd, the private company he used as a lobbying company. Prime Minister Gillard's standards of ministerial ethics say that ministers must divest themselves of an interest in any private company or business. Whether or not this is an appropriate standard is not a matter for consideration; it is a test set for the Prime Minister. When challenged by Senator Abetz and me at Senate estimates in May, Senator Carr insisted that the issue of his retention of the shareholding was absurd and simply a bit of paperwork. I lodged a motion with the Senate and was in discussion with a member of the Greens regarding that motion when—coincidentally, the same day—Senator Carr came into the Senate and asserted that he had been advised that there was no conflict of interest in the retention of his share.

This motion simply calls for the tabling of the advice that Minister Carr has relied upon; it does not go to the substance of it. I put to those opposite, and particularly to Senator Rhiannon, who has expressed concern about the revolving door between business and lobbyists, that this Senate has a right to such advice.

The PRESIDENT: The question is that the motion moved by Senator Ryan be agreed to.