More than 40% of ex-Abbott government MPs have moved into public sector roles, analysis finds

By Shannon Jenkins

Tuesday July 21, 2020


A significant number of Coalition MPs who were elected or serving in the 44th Parliament have been appointed to public sector roles since leaving politics, new analysis has found.

The investigation conducted by Crikey Inq revealed that 26 out of 57 Abbott-era MPs and senators who have lost their seat, retired, or lost preselection have since taken on positions in the public sector.

Seven of the 26 have taken on senior roles at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, including US ambassadors Joe Hockey and Arthur Sinodinos, high commissioner to the UK George Brandis, ambassador to the Netherlands Brett Mason, Australia’s consulate-general in Chicago David Bushby, Australia’s ambassador for women and girls Sharman Stone, and UN ambassador Mitch Fifield.

Six have gone on to obtain board positions, including Michael Ronaldson at Australia Post and Snowy Hydro, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s Louise Markus, the Australian Rail Track Corporation’s Warren Truss, the National Film and Sound Archive’s Fiona Scott and Ewen Jones, and Moorebank Intermodal’s Jamie Briggs.

Eight of the former politicians are either lobbyists, strategic consultants, or are employed by industry peak bodies. This includes former defence minister Christopher Pyne — who was formally warned that he was banned from lobbying for a defence contractor earlier this year, foreign minister-turned Australian National University chancellor Julie Bishop, and Whittlesea Council administrator Bruce Billson, who was small business minister under Tony Abbott.

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Last year Abbott was appointed as a member of the Council of the Australian War Memorial.

Four MPs hold Administrative Appeals Tribunal positions, two have become territory administrators, and three have been employed as ministerial advisers.

While 12 MPs who lost their seats as a result of 2016 elections have taken on taxpayer-funded positions, only five have not, Inq found.

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