Bill Shorten orders review of Synergy 360 agreements

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“Whether you are a backbencher or a frontbencher is not a defence. If and when public office has been used to enrich private cronies, it is corruption.”

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Robert has previously acknowledged his business relationship with Margerison but said he no longer had a stake in JM National Property, a company in which they both had a stake in the past.

Asked if he had helped Synergy 360 and its clients win federal government contracts, Robert said Wednesday: “Of course not. What a load of garbage.”

Asked if he had profited financially from Synergy 360’s work again, Robert said: “I’m not part of this. I have no ownership of this. I’m not involved in this.”

Leaked emails show Robert used his status as a federal MP in 2017 and 2018 to help the firm, Synergy 360, sign up corporate clients with the promise of helping them navigate the federal public service and political system and meet key decision-makers, including senior coalition ministers.
This masthead does not imply that Robert was employed by Synergy 360 or was paid for his advice and assistance.

The email exchanges took place during a period when Robert was a backbencher after he was removed from the ministry in February 2016 and before he was reinstated in the ministry in August 2018, when Scott Morrison, one of his closest friends in Parliament , became prime minister.

While prime ministers use a code of conduct for ministers to avoid private lobbying or conflicts of interest, there is no similar code for backers.

Independent MPs on Thursday called for a code governing all parliamentarians, not just ministers.

“This is something we are actively working on as part of the Parliamentary Leadership Taskforce,” Independent Member for Warringah Zali Steggall said.

“When I arrived at Parliament I was surprised that there was no code of conduct because in every other profession I’ve had in the past we’ve had one.

“A strong code of conduct for all MPs is essential to restore confidence and trust in Members of Parliament and restore the parliamentary workplace to the standards it should have.”

Kate Chaney, the independent MP for Curtin, said the code was developed by a joint parliamentary committee looking into parliamentary standards.

“Without commenting on the specifics of Stuart Roberts’ situation, I would advocate that the code of conduct makes clear that parliamentarians’ first duty is to the Australian public and spells out expectations of behaviour,” she said.

Opposition Treasury spokesman Angus Taylor questioned the report on Robert.

“Well, I don’t know what the allegation is that’s been made here, and I’ll let Stu answer that,” he said.

Cut through the noise of federal politics with news, views and expert analysis from Jacqueline Maley. Subscribers can sign up for our weekly Inside Politics newsletter here.

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