I am pleased that the committee has included reference to paragraph 2.26 of the current Ministerial Standards and the key point it raises.
Dr Parkinson himself admitted he had no investigatory powers yet in response to questions at the inquiry he repeatedly used the word 'investigation' to describe his efforts responding to the PM’s request made of him. This has both immediate and future significance as per clause 3.44.
Of immediate significance is the need to now conduct a more appropriate and deserved investigation. I agree with the committee's recommendation 1. Dr Parkinson cannot be considered fully independent.
In future, there needs to be a means of systematic independent investigation on matters of compliance with the Ministerial Standards and similar with full powers of investigation.
In my view, Dr Parkinson’s responses to many of the questions he fielded were vague and evasive and his efforts did not make an adequate inquiry of former ministers Pyne and Bishop. Coming as it did from arguably the senior federal public servant this raises important questions about the public service’s role, behaviour and/or effectiveness. Dr Parkinson should have spoken to EY and Palladium.
In my view, the Prime Minister cannot be held directly accountable for the current looseness of the 'investigation' and response as he would not have had such a prior event. It is now though, in my opinion, a test of the Prime Minister to develop a proper means of investigating such matters in a way that is transparent and restores parliament’s reputation and ensures his reputation is safe. There is a need to develop a system that ensures real accountability and reassures the people to whom parliament is ultimately responsible. The Code needs to be enforceable and contain penalties for non-compliance.