Former defence minister Christopher Pyne discussed taking a consultancy job three days before the election was called, while still a member of Cabinet, business firm EY has confirmed. The South Australian has been criticised for taking a defence industry role with advisory firm EY so soon after leaving the ministry. The Statement of Ministerial Standards bans former ministers from taking jobs in their areas of ministerial expertise for 18 months after leaving office.
Christopher Pyne discussed defence industry job while still a member of Cabinet, consultancy firm confirms
Mr Pyne and former foreign minister Julie Bishop,who accepted a position on the board of aid development company Palladium, are now subject to a Senate inquiry.
“On 8 April 2019, I met with Mr Pyne to discuss his retirement from politics,” EY partner Mark Stewart said in a submission.
“At this meeting, we discussed Mr Pyne’s post-retirement plans, and his interest in utilising his experience as a politician and Minister to assist a professional services firm grow their private sector defence industry business.
“After the election was called on 11 April 2019, EY made a formal offer to Mr Pyne to commence with EY as a consultant.”
Mr Pyne announced his retirement from politics at the beginning of March, and started his new role in early June.
He has denied breaching the Statement of Ministerial Standards. An investigation by the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Martin Parkinson, found neither Mr Pyne or Ms Bishop had broken the rules.
Pyne’s post-politics job
• 2 March 2019 – Christopher Pyne announces retirement from politics
• 8 April 2019 – Mr Pyne meets EY defence industry leader Mark Stewart
• 11 April 2019 – Prime Minister Scott Morrison calls the election for 18 May
• 17 April 2019 – EY offers Mr Pyne a job as a consultant
• 20 April 2019 – Mr Pyne accepts the offer
• 18 May 2019 – Federal Election is held
• 7 June 2019 – Mr Pyne starts the new job
Despite that, the Senate backed a push by crossbench senator Rex Patrick to investigate the matter further.
“Consistent with our public statements on this matter, EY has not, and will not, seek that Mr Pyne lobby, advocate or have business meetings with members of the Government, Parliament, public service or Defence Force on any matters on which he has had official dealings as Minister in his last 18 months in office,” Mr Stewart said.
“EY requires that Mr Pyne will maintain confidentiality over, and not seek to take personal advantage of, information to which he had access as a Minister where that information is not generally available to the public.
“EY has not sought, nor has Mr Pyne provided to EY, any confidential information to which Mr Pyne had access as a Minister.”
Dr Parkinson has also made a submission to the inquiry, reiterating the results of his investigation and commenting on the strength of the Statement of Ministerial Standards.
“I believe that a former-Minister should have the ability to gain employment after they have left the Parliament — whether or not that employment relates to the matters they dealt with as a Minister,” he wrote to the committee.
“As I mentioned in my 19 July letter to the Prime Minister, Ministers — and parliamentarians for that matter — gain experience and knowledge in subject matters during their time in the Parliament. Extinguishing that experience is impossible.
“However, it is important that former Ministers do not misuse the knowledge and information they have gained from their ministerial position(s) to benefit themselves or others.”