MP Stuart Robert faces conflict of interest calls
Bill Shorten has blasted a retiring former cabinet minister and his alleged links to government contracts.
Integrity experts are calling for outgoing Liberal MP Stuart Robert to be referred to Australia's new federal corruption watchdog for his alleged involvement with a consulting firm that helped companies win big-money government contracts.
The Government Services Minister backed that call on Wednesday, pointing to a government inquiry that identified 19 contracts worth $374 million requiring further examination.
Mr Robert, who recently announced his resignation and triggered a by-election in his Fadden electorate, has denied any wrongdoing and says the government inquiry did not find any misconduct.
But Mr Shorten fired back and said Mr Robert's personal actions had not been scrutinised.
"The review only had the ability to look at one side of the contracts, that of the public officials but not of the former MPs or their offices," he told parliament.
"A common thread across the undisclosed conflict of interest, valuable government contracts, Synergy 360 and special access is (Mr Robert) … crucial questions remain unanswered."
Those questions, Mr Shorten said, include what role Mr Robert played in seeking special access to the Commonwealth contracts, if he'd asked for or received money from Synergy 360 and if he was a beneficiary from any trust linked to the consulting firm.
Legal professionals including former NSW Supreme Court judge Anthony Whealy and former Victorian Court of Appeal judge Stephen Charles said earlier on Wednesday Mr Robert's actions deserved examination by the National Anti-Corruption Commission, which starts operating on July 1.
Mr Shorten called on Mr Robert to explain his actions immediately, although he wouldn't be able to do it while fronting parliament given he's already resigned.
"(Mr Robert) has unusually said he would not come to parliament to deliver a valedictory speech because he considers it a vanity project - not even a thank you to his electors," Mr Shorten said.
"(He) owes the people and his coalition colleagues … an explanation as to what he did and why he did it."
The Fadden by-election will be held on July 15.