Over in Australia Malcolm Turnbull has ended a difficult week by effectively sacking Stuart Robert from the cabinet for mixing up politics and private business on a trip to China.
Malcolm Turnbull has dumped Stuart Robert from the ministry after a scandal over a “private” trip to Beijing to oversee a mining deal involving a major Liberal donor and meet a Chinese vice-minister.
The prime minister confirmed Robert would leave the frontbench after a report by a senior public servant found the minister for human services had “acted inconsistently” with the statement of ministerial standards.
During the course of bureaucrat Martin Parkinson’s investigation, Robert disclosed a shareholding in Metallum Holdings, which had an interest in Nimrod Resources.
“Mr Robert recognised that this connection would create the impression that at the time he went to Beijing he had something personally to gain from the Nimrod Resources project,” Turnbull said in a statement on Friday.
“As a result, Mr Robert has asked me not to consider him in the pending reshuffle of the ministry. I thank him for his service as a minister and for his candid cooperation with Dr Parkinson in his inquiry.”
What exactly did Robert do to deserve this summary dismissal?
Turnbull sought advice from Parkinson, the head of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, after revelations Robert attended an event in Beijing to celebrate a deal involving Nimrod Resources, an Australian mining company headed by Liberal party donor Paul Marks.
This was followed by a meeting with the Chinese vice-minister of land and resources in the reported presence of Nimrod Resources the next day.
It did not help that Robert inadvertently forgot that he held shares in a company associated with Nimrod Holdings. It did not save him that he claimed the trip was a private one.
It is good to see that ministerial standards are being applied. And imagine what would happen over here if a Minister on an official trip to China did anything to assist a company which their family had an interest in and which made donations to the governing party?