THE HON. MARK DREYFUS QC, MP
MEMBER FOR ISAACS
WEDNESDAY, 10 FEBRUARY 2016
SUBJECTS: Stuart Robert
MARK DREYFUS, SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL: The Prime Minister won't sack Stuart Robert. The Prime Minister won't defend Stuart Robert. The Prime Minister is simply treating the Parliament with contempt, and the Australian people with arrogance. It's long past time for this minister to go. It's been time for him to go since the story of his trip to China was splashed across the morning papers on Monday this week. There were damning photographs which should have told the Prime Minister all that he needed to know. And that's the real question for the Prime Minister. So what more does he need to know? Whats the point of having a further inquiry? He and his ministers have been talking about due process under the ministerial standards. And I can point out that the ministerial standards, when they come to how this sort of matter is to be dealt with, start with the proposition that it is for the Prime Minister to decide. And that's the due process that should be taking place right now. The Prime Minister should be deciding, and there's only one decision for him to make, which is to sack Stuart Robert, to end his term as Minister for Human Services and Minister for Veterans Affairs.
REPORTER: The Senate Estimates hearing today was told that Mr Robert when he came back from China actually briefed the Defence department on his trip. Do you think that shows that there was some sort of official capacity to it?
DREYFUS: Well I'm going on what Mr Robert has said, and what the government has said about this trip, which is that he went in a private capacity. And that's why I'm saying nothing more needs to be known. We've seen from the photographs what he was engaged in, which is assisting a company, a business in its signing ceremony, in signing a contract between Nimrod Resources, the company that belongs to Paul Marks, the wealthy donor that has given more than $2 million to the Liberal Party, a signing ceremony between his mining company and a state-owned Chinese mining company. That's the assistance that Mr Robert provided, that's what is prohibited. There is a blanket ban on that kind of behaviour under the code of conduct. There is nothing more we need to know. Of course there are details, the one you've just mentioned is a detail, as to him apparently having told the Department of Defence on his return to Australia. But what needed to happen is he should have told them before he went, and there's a whole lot more besides. This was no part of his ministerial responsibilities, he's not suggesting that it was, he's clearly broken the code of ministerial standards and for that he must be dismissed. The Prime Minister should not be waiting a moment longer. Of course, Dr Parkinson the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet should keep on enquiring into a host of other questions that have been raised but on the core question here there is the clearest possible breach of the ministerial standards, he has to go.