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23    Finance and Public Administration References Committee—Reference —Compliance by former Ministers of State with Ministerial Standards

Senator Patrick, pursuant to notice of motion not objected to as a formal motion, moved business of the Senate notice of motion no. 1—That—

(1)       the Senate notes—

(a)       the Prime Minister’s Statement of Ministerial Standards of 30 August 2018, at paragraph 2.25 concerning post-ministerial employment, states that “Ministers are required to undertake that, for an eighteen month period after ceasing to be a Minister, they will not lobby, advocate or have business meetings with members of the government, parliament, public service or defence force on any matters on which they have had official dealings as Minister in their last eighteen months in office. Ministers are also required to undertake that, on leaving office, they will not take personal advantage of information to which they have had access as a Minister, where that information is not generally available to the public”;

(b)       that Mr Christopher Maurice Pyne served as the Minister for Defence Industry from 19 July 2016 to 28 August 2018, and as the Minister for Defence from 28 August 2018 to 11 April 2019;

(c)       that Mr Pyne has taken employment with consulting firm EY and that, in his own words, he is “looking forward to providing strategic advice to EY, as the firm looks to expand its footprint in the defence industry”;

(d)       that media reports indicate that AusTender government contract notices show that over the past four years EY has secured over 830 contracts with the Australian Government worth more than $370 million, including 138 contracts with the Department of Defence worth $148 million;

(e)       that EY has publicly identified the Australian Government’s investment in new defence capabilities, including the future submarines project and the future frigate project as major business opportunities;

(f)        EY’s statement that Mr Pyne will help build EY’s defence-related business in South Australia and elsewhere, including helping to “lead conversations about what all states need to do to meet the challenges and opportunities this defence investment will bring”;

(g)       EY’s subsequent statement that Mr Pyne “will not be lobbying or meeting with public sector MPs, public service or defence in his EY role” and that he will be “supporting the private sector side of the business”; and

(h)       Mr Pyne’s further statement that he intends “to ensure that anyone I provide advice to has rigorous processes and procedures in place to ensure that I am not put in a position where the Ministerial Code might be breached”.

(2)       the following matter be referred to the Finance and Public Administration References Committee for inquiry and report by 10 September 2019:

(a)       compliance by former Ministers of State with the requirements of paragraph 2.25 of the Prime Minister’s Statement of Ministerial Standards, dated 30 August 2018, including, but not limited to the undertakings given by Ministers to comply with their obligations concerning post-ministerial employment, and action taken by the Prime Minister and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to ensure full compliance by former ministers with paragraph 2.25 of the Ministerial Standards; and

(b)       any related matters.

Senator Waters, by leave, moved the following amendments together:

After subparagraph (1)(h), add:

(i)         that current and previous Prime Minister’s Statements of Ministerial Standards clearly provide that Ministers must act with honesty and integrity in all their activities. In particular, Ministers must:

(i)             make arrangements to avoid conflicts arising from their private interests, also having regard to interests held by family members (paragraphs 2.9 and 2.17), and

(ii)            not use public office for private purposes (paragraph 2.2);

(j)        that on 19 June 2019, the Guardian reported that, while a company part-owned by Angus Taylor MP and his brother was under investigation by the Department of the Environment for alleged unlawful clearing of a critically endangered grassland species, Minister Taylor met with Department of the Environment staff.  The Guardian further reported on 27 June 2019 that an investigator from the office responsible for investigating the clearing allegations was present at a meeting;

(k)       that on 20 June 2019, the Guardian reported that former Minister for the Environment, Mr Josh Frydenberg, was approached by Mr Angus Taylor in relation to the listing of the grassland species, and according to the report, Mr Frydenberg subsequently sought advice about his powers to amend the critically endangered listing; and

(l)         that these meetings raise serious questions about whether such conduct complies with the Ministerial Standards.

After subparagraph (2)(a), insert:

(aa)   extending the post-employment period during which former Ministers are prevented from lobbying, advocating or other activities under paragraph 2.25 of the Ministerial Standards to 5 years;

(ab) enforcement of the Ministerial Standards including, but not limited to:

                    (i)   actions taken in response to allegations of improper conduct or other non-compliance with the Ministerial Standards,

                   (ii)   investigation of allegations of improper conduct or other non-compliance with the Ministerial Standards by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet,

                  (iii)   investigation of allegations of misconduct or other non-compliance with the Ministerial Standards by an independent authority,

                 (iv)   penalties for non-compliance with the Ministerial Standards, and

                  (v)   any policies developed to guide implementation of the Ministerial Standards;

(ac)   appointment of a Parliamentary Integrity Commissioner tasked with enforcing compliance with the Ministerial Standards;

Statements by leave : Senators Gallagher and Waters and the Minister for Finance (Senator Cormann), by leave, made statements relating to the motion.

Question—That the amendments be agreed to—put.

The Senate divided—

AYES, 9

Senators—

Di Natale

McKim

Siewert*

Waters

Faruqi

Rice

Steele-John

Whish-Wilson

Hanson-Young

 

 

 

NOES, 43

Senators—

Abetz

Davey

McCarthy

Scarr

Antic

Dodson

McDonald

Seselja

Askew

Fawcett

McGrath

Sheldon

Bernardi

Fierravanti-Wells

McKenzie

Sinodinos

Bragg

Fifield

McMahon

Smith, Dean

Brockman

Gallagher

O’Sullivan

Smith, Marielle

Brown

Green

Paterson

Stoker

Canavan

Griff

Patrick

Urquhart*

Chandler

Hughes

Rennick

Van

Ciccone

Hume

Roberts

Walsh

Cormann

Lines

Ruston

 

* Tellers

Question negatived.

Main question put.

The Senate divided—

AYES, 35

Senators—

Ayres

Gallacher

McCarthy

Steele-John

Bernardi

Gallagher

McKim

Sterle

Brown

Green

Patrick

Urquhart*

Carr

Griff

Pratt

Walsh

Chisholm

Hanson

Rice

Waters

Ciccone

Hanson-Young

Roberts

Watt

Di Natale

Keneally

Sheldon

Whish-Wilson

Dodson

Lambie

Siewert

Wong

Faruqi

McAllister

Smith, Marielle

 

 

 

NOES, 29

Senators—

Antic

Cormann

McGrath

Ruston

Askew

Davey

McKenzie

Scarr

Birmingham

Fawcett

McMahon

Seselja

Bragg

Fierravanti-Wells

O’Sullivan

Sinodinos

Brockman

Fifield

Paterson

Smith, Dean*

Canavan

Hume

Rennick

Stoker

Chandler

McDonald

Reynolds

Van

Colbeck

 

* Tellers

Question agreed to.