Patrick Moves For Senate Probe Of Pyne's Ernst &Young Job: Inquiry Into Post-Ministerial Employment Rules Urgently Required

30 June 2019

Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick will this week move to establish a Senate Committee inquiry into the compliance of former Ministers with the post-ministerial employment rules set out in the Prime Minister’s Statement of Ministerial Standards.  

"Former Defence Minister Chris Pyne’s decision to take a job helping consulting firm EY’s defence-related business just doesn’t pass the pub test," Senator Patrick said today. 

"Neither Mr Pyne nor EY have been able to offer any convincing explanation as to how Mr Pyne’s new job can properly be reconciled with the Prime Minister’s Ministerial Standards concerning post-ministerial employment."

"Those standards, signed by the Prime Minister on 30 August 2018, two days after Mr Pyne was sworn in as Defence Minister, include an undertaking by Ministers 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 further 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’."  

"Mr Pyne cannot unknow what he knows from nearly three years’ service at the top of the Defence portfolio. His acceptance of his new job with EY is unquestionably a breach of the spirit, and indeed the letter, of the Prime Minister’s standards. The question is now that of what the Prime Minister is going to do about it."

"The Prime Minister must be fully engaged with this issue and he must ensure that former Ministers fully comply with the undertakings they gave when holding Ministerial office. The highest standards of integrity must be upheld and seen to be upheld by Ministers and former Ministers," Senator Patrick said. 

"To help focus the Prime Minister’s mind and support his personal role in ensuring integrity within government, it would be timely for a Senate Committee to inquire into the compliance of former Ministers with Mr Morrison’s Ministerial Standards."  

"This is fully consistent with Senate’s duty to scrutinise public administration and the conduct of the executive government."

"An inquiry by the Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee would be able to seek all relevant information from Mr Pyne, EY, the Department of Defence, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and from the Prime Minister himself. If necessary, such an inquiry can employ the full powers of Senate Committees to obtain documents and information."

An inquiry would be able to make recommendations for ensuring that any integrity issues relating to post-ministerial employment and lobbying/advisory activities by former Ministers are dealt with in any effective and transparent way.  

Proposed Terms of Reference

That the Senate 

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

(c)       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)       Media reports indicate that AusTender government contract notices show that EY 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)       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  

(2)  Refers the following matter 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.   

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