Ian Macfarlane and Larissa Waters are at loggerheads over Mr Macfarlane's appointment to the Queensland Resources Council.
Ian Macfarlane and Larissa Waters are at loggerheads over Mr Macfarlane's appointment to the Queensland Resources Council.

Greens senators want Macfarlane sidelined

UPDATE: The Greens succeeded in their bid to move a motion in the Senate calling on all government ministers to refuse to meet with Ian Macfarlane until March 21 next year.

Mr Macfarlane has a new role as the chief executive officer of the Queensland Resources Council.

Greens Senators Larissa Waters and Lee Rhiannon in September accused Mr Macfarlane of breaching the ministerial code of conduct by accepting the position.

A Greens spokeswoman said today's motion was not binding but a formal record.

"We can now put pressure to tighten up the ministerial standards and increase pressure on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to clarify whether he endorsed Macfarlane," she said.

"We can also increase pressure on the Senate Estimate questions to the current Resource Minister Matt Canavan on whether he has met with Macfarlane."

EARLIER: The Greens are preparing to move a motion in the Senate calling on all government ministers to refuse to meet with Ian Macfarlane until March 21 next year in his new role as the chief executive officer of the Queensland Resources Council.

Two prominent Greens senators in September accused Mr Macfarlane of breaching the ministerial code of conduct by accepting the position.

At the time Senator Larissa Waters quoted 2013 Ministerial Standards, which requires an 18-month cooling off period before former ministers take lobbying jobs.

Mr Macfarlane strenuously denied the claims.

He said the council was not a lobby organisation and did not need to be registered as such.

"It's a representative organisation," he said.

"I'm complying with code, and that's been checked by the Prime Minister (Malcolm Turnbull)."

Mr Macfarlane repeated the statement today and declined to comment further.

Senator Larissa Waters said, "If ex-ministers cannot be trusted to uphold the Statement of Ministerial Standards then it is up to the Senate and current ministers to do so instead.

"Ian Macfarlane's appointment to head of the Queensland Resources Council during the ministerial cooling-off period is a disgrace and shows just how broken our political system is.

"The Prime Minister must explain whether he approved of Mr Macfarlane's disregard of the cooling off period, and whether the Prime Minister intends to ever enforce the ministerial standards.

"Australians are sick to death of the revolving door between politics, big business and big polluters.

"The mining industry and big polluters stalk the halls of power and they're set to receive $24 billion in fossil fuel subsides in the next four years. Ordinary Australians can never hope for that level of access.''

Senator Lee Rhiannon said, "Given advocacy and lobbying has been the Queensland Resources Council's bread and butter for the last 11 years he might have a hard time not breaching the standards. It is irrelevant in this instance whether the QRC is classified as a lobbying group or not.

"Mr Macfarlane says that Prime Minister Turnbull is 'cool with it'. If Mr Macfarlane does breach the standards, then Prime Minister Turnbull will have serious questions to answer about why he was willing to undermine the ministerial standards that former Prime Minister Abbott introduced."

Motion to be moved

1.  The Senate notes that:

The Statement of Ministerial Standards stipulates that "Ministers are required to undertake that, for an eighteen month period after ceasing to be a Minister, they will not lobby, advocate or have business meetings with members of the government, parliament, public service or defence force on any matters on which they have had official dealings as Minister in their last eighteen months in office."

Mr Ian Macfarlane held the resources portfolio for the Coalition for thirteen years, including nine years as Minister, most recently the period of 18 September 2013 until 21 September 2015.

On 26 September 2016, approximately twelve months after he ceased to be a Minister, it was reported that Mr Macfarlane had been appointed as CEO of the Queensland Resources Council.

It was also reported that Prime Minister Turnbull's office gave approval for Mr Macfarlane's appointment. 

2.  The Senate calls on all federal Ministers to rule out meeting with Mr Macfarlane in his capacity as Queensland Resources Council CEO until 21 March 2017 when eighteen months will have elapsed after he ceased to hold his Ministerial portfolios.

3.  The Senate calls on Prime Minister Turnbull to clarify whether he or his office endorsed Mr Macfarlane's disregard for the Statement of Ministerial Standards.  



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