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Anthony Albanese erupts over ‘transparency’ in defence of minister

Local Government Minister Kristy McBain has admitted she should have sold her shareholdings in eight private companies earlier to avoid breaching her code of conduct.

Ms McBain said on Monday she had divested her shares to her husband when she found out she would be sworn in as a minister, before realising that wouldn’t be sufficient under the new rules.

She said she and her husband had always intended to sell their shares.

“However, I am the first to admit that that should have taken place sooner,” she told parliament during question time.

The Eden-Monaro MP said she took her responsibilities as a minister very seriously and that she considered the matter closed, given the shares were now sold.

“At no point did I intend to deceive the parliament. I adequately disclosed as I was required to, unlike those opposite,” she said, prompting an uproar from the opposition benches.

Local Government Minister Kristy McBain, pictured in 2020, has been asked about potentially breaching the new ministerial code of conduct.
Camera IconLocal Government Minister Kristy McBain, pictured in 2020, has been asked about potentially breaching the new ministerial code of conduct. Credit: Supplied

Ms McBain, NDIS Minister Bill Shorten and Assistant Trade Minister Tim Ayres were last week revealed to have been caught up in a potential breach of the new ministerial code of conduct by owning shares.

Anthony Albanese in July announced ministers would have to divest from all direct shareholdings in public or private companies and would not be able to transfer them to family members under an overhaul of the code designed to increase government transparency.

The Prime Minister erupted when he was asked about the matter during question time on Monday, saying he was satisfied with the explanation Ms McBain had given him.

“I’m not going to take lectures in transparency from those opposite,” he shouted, before criticising his predecessor Scott Morrison’s secret ministerial power grab.

The spat over transparency came as Labor is set to introduce laws to federal parliament within the fortnight which would establish a national corruption watchdog.

The otherwise relatively subdued question time was dominated by a mix of Dorothy Dixers and Coalition barbs over the Albanese government’s jobs and skills summit.

Camera IconPrime Minister Anthony Albanese fired back at the Coalition during question time. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

The Opposition used many of its questions to point out the trade union movement’s links to Labor and its involvement in last week’s summit.

Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley accused Mr Albanese of having invited a “misogynistic thug” to the event, referring to maritime union leader Christy Cain’s attendance.

“Mr Cain has been previously charged with common assault, has described John Setka as one of the most fair dinkum people in the country and on Thursday, said that if you are not at the table, you are part of the menu,“ Ms Ley asked.

“Will the Prime Minister apologise for inviting this misogynist thug, or was it a payback for millions in dirty CFMEU donations?”

Mr Albanese hailed the summit as a success, saying it had been attended by a “range of people” from business, government and the union movement.

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