Upholding the ministerial code of ethics is the Prime Minister's responsibility - Radio Transcript

ANDREW LEIGH MP

SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER

SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMPETITION AND PRODUCTIVITY

SHADOW MINISTER FOR CHARITIES AND NOT-FOR-PROFITS

SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE IN SERVICES

ACTING SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE

MEMBER FOR FENNER

 

E&EO TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

ABC DARWIN MORNINGS WITH ADAM STEER

TUESDAY, 1 NOVEMBER 2016

SUBJECT/S: Andrew Robb working for Landbridge

ADAM STEER: Andrew Leigh is the Opposition's Assistant Treasury spokesman. Andrew your Labor colleagues in the Northern Territory don't seem concerned. Are you?

ANDREW LEIGH, ACTING SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE AND SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Well I'm concerned that Malcolm Turnbull sets high standards for his ministers and his former ministers, Adam. I think it's really important that Territorians know that Malcolm Turnbull's out there on their side, not standing by someone else's profit-making activities after politics. 

STEER: Are you really suggesting the former minister might disclose classified information to the Chinese?

LEIGH: I think that's why the ministerial standards require that ministers don't lobby, advocate or have business meetings with members of the government, public servants or defence force for 18 months after leaving the job. One wonders about the value that Andrew Robb is able to bring to Landbridge if he's not engaged in any of those lobbying activities. I think it is incumbent upon Malcolm Turnbull to be very clear about how he's making sure that his former minister abides by that code of ministerial standards.

STEER: The Defence Association wants politicians to be banned from taking commercial jobs for two years after they resign - a standard time - same as there is for public servants and the military. Is that realistic?

LEIGH: Let's worry first about upholding the standards we already have, Adam. Right now we've got a situation at the port of Darwin where President Obama gave Malcolm Turnbull a polite dressing down for the fact that he wasn't informed about Landbridge taking over that lease. It's a lease which had generated considerable public controversy and Andrew Robb is now stepping in to work for that firm. My concern is not that it's a Chinese firm, it's a concern that we make absolutely sure that former ministers aren't using public information for private benefit.

STEER: So what would you like to change exactly?

LEIGH: I'd like to see Malcolm Turnbull set out very clearly what dealings his ministers have had with former minister Robb. To make clear to former minister Robb that the clock starts ticking the moment he stepped down as Special Envoy for Trade - which was at the election - not some months earlier when he stepped down as Minister for Trade. It's a fine distinction but I think his role as Special Envoy for Trade gave him access to the same sort of information he would have had as Trade Minister. I think it’s important too that the Prime Minister satisfies himself that Mr Robb is living up to that code of ministerial conduct because it's only the Prime Minister who's able to uphold that code. You and I can't go to a court of law and demand that it be upheld, it's a code of ethics and it's the Prime Minister's responsibility to make sure it's upheld.

STEER: Andrew Leigh, appreciate your time.

LEIGH: Thank you, Adam.

ENDS

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