With Julie Bishop set to be the chancellor of ANU, are we seemingly at the same junction we found ourselves a month ago. How much are we willing to allow our politicians to privately benefit from public office?
Ex-foreign minister Julie Bishop is set to be the first woman Chancellor of Canberra’s Australia National University. Announcing the move, Bishop said that “…it is a great honour to take up the role of chancellor of ANU. Without doubt, ANU is world-class in terms of education and research and it our (sic) nation’s leading university,” she said.
Per Fairfax, “Pro-chancellor Naomi Flutter said Ms Bishop’s three-year term would help the university lobby government, barrack for education and prepare for change. ‘In Julie, I know we will have a compelling and effective advocate for our university including with the Australian government,’ Ms Flutter said in an all-staff email.”
Flutter also stated that “In Julie, I know we will have a compelling and effective advocate for our university, including with the Australian Government.”
Bishop hit headlines last month after she took a board-room position with foreign aid multinational Palladium, sparking vociferous backlash and a Senate investigation into whether she broke the parliamentary code of conduct by accepting the role.
The opposition’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said Ms Bishop had been appointed because of her global network of contacts.
“Not only doesn’t it pass the pub test, it looks on the face of it like another breach of the ministerial standards,” she said.
The parliamentary code states 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. Ministers are also required to undertake that, on leaving office, they will not take personal advantage of information to which they have had access as a Minister, where that information is not generally available to the public.”
Martin Parkinson, secretary of the Prime Minister’s department cleared Bishop, stating that the code was not broken, believing that “a distinction should be drawn between experience gained through being a minister and specific knowledge they acquire through performing the role. It is the latter which is pertinent to the Standards”.
The ruling was met with groans of derision from the public. Bishop quit politics back in February and is set to take the role in 2020.
Yes, education has little to do with her portfolio as Foreign Minister. But, clearly, she possesses contacts within Canberra, However, this new arrives at a time when the nation is examining the amount of benefit our outgoing politicians are gleaning from public office, and also where University salaries are booming. Per The Sydney Morning Herald, the average yearly salary for a Vice-Chancellor is $970,000.
It is expected that Bishop will not relinquish her role with Palladium.