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Pyne and Bishop face new scrutiny after "shallow" inquiry

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Australia’s top bureaucrat ignored crucial pieces of information in a “shallow review” which cleared former ministers Julie Bishop and Christopher Pyne of potential misconduct, a crossbench senator says.

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The Senate has agreed to an inquiry, initiated by South Australian Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick, into whether Bishop’s and Pyne’s post-parliament roles are in line with rules for former ministers.

“Dr Parkinson made a very shallow review,” Patrick told reporters today.

In the case of Pyne, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary Martin Parkinson had “ignored other very crucial information” revealed by the former defence minister, Patrick said.

“Both parties had indicated that one of the reasons they’d joined forced together was to advance EY’s defence business,” he added.

Labor and crossbench senators want to quiz the former frontbenchers – and possibly the prime minister and his department boss – over whether ministerial standards have been breached.

“Unfortunately, I think there’s a political fix on here to try and kill off this particular issue,” Patrick said.

In a report tabled in parliament on Monday, Dr Parkinson cleared the former foreign minister and defence minister of breaking ministerial guidelines over their post-politics jobs.

Bishop has been appointed to the board of foreign aid contractor Palladium, while Pyne has a new defence-focused role with professional services giant EY.

The ministerial statement of standards says ministers must not lobby or have business meetings with politicians or public servants within 18 months of leaving parliament, on matters they dealt with in their final 18 months in office.

Parkinson spoke with the former politicians and found ministerial rules were not broken.

But Labor has dug up a video message Ms Bishop made as a minister in 2017 for an aid sector conference, which Palladium posted on its Facebook page.

She does not mention Palladium by name.

The video raises “concerns about the discrepancy between what Julie Bishop said about Palladium and her relationship with the company,” Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese told ABC Radio on Tuesday.

He renewed calls for the government to bring forward laws for a national corruption watchdog.

Morrison said he had no reason to doubt the findings of his department head.

The government is working on a new Commonwealth Integrity Commission.

– AAP

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