Government MP won't apologise over company's links to 'illegal land clearing'
Cabinet minister Angus Taylor says he will not apologise for representing himself and his family, being farmers in his electorate, in a discussion over environmental regulations.
The energy minister was again Labor's target during question time over his interest in a family company, Jam Land Pty Ltd, linked to an investigation into alleged illegal land clearing and endangered grasslands.
The opposition's pursuit centres on a 2017 meeting with environment department officials and the office of then-environment minister Josh Frydenberg.
It was held while investigations were underway into the alleged poisoning of 30 hectares that contained the grassland on a NSW property Jam Land Pty Ltd owned.
In July, after the last parliamentary pursuit of the matter, Mr Taylor told a local ABC radio station the environmental protection of grasslands had the potential to have a big impact on farming in the region.
"One of those landholders is me," he said.
"I make absolutely no apologies for standing up for farmers in my region. That includes me and other family members."
Today, Mr Taylor said he was making the point he and his family were farmers, and in a representative democracy he was standing up for constituents like them.
"Labor is accusing me and my family of the heinous crime of being a farmer in my electorate," he told parliament.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese told parliament Mr Taylor had clearly failed to put the public interest ahead of his own interests.
"Will the prime minister do what he should have done weeks ago and sack this minister?" he said.
Labor contends Mr Taylor has breached ministerial standards which say ministers must be aware of any perception of conflicts of interest and make sure they declare anything that could lead to this.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was not having a bar of that.
"I will not cop lectures on integrity from the New South Wales Labor Party," he said.
"That mob stinks with corruption as we see it every single day in the Independent Commission Against Corruption."
The latest revelation follows a failed attempt in July by Labor and the Greens to set up a Senate inquiry into the matter, which was headed off by One Nation leader Pauline Hanson.
Mr Taylor insists he's done nothing wrong, disclosed everything according to the rules, and sees no need to publish "minority, non-controlling interests held at three levels down in a family company structure", which would be a major change to the current practice.
Labor is concerned the minister didn't properly disclose his interest in the company, pointing to department answers to Senate committee questions and a freedom of information request that show no records of the minister declaring his interest in Jam Land to the bureaucrats.
© AAP 2019