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Government ministers deny code breach over investments

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton alleged in parliament that Mr Dreyfus had a conflict of interest by investing through his self-managed superannuation fund in Greencape Wholesale Broadcap Fund.

The fund is the largest shareholder in litigation funder Omni Bridgeway, which last issued a statement to the stock exchange welcoming draft regulations released by Mr Dreyfus that unwind the former government’s restrictions on class action plaintiffs accessing funding.

“The shareholding owned by the attorney-general has effectively doubled in value since the Labor Party came to power,” Mr Dutton told parliament.

”Is that directed to decisions being made by the attorney-general? Well, I’ll let people draw their own conclusions.”

Mr Dreyfus said he had complied with the code but would seek advice.

“I can assure the house that every single one of the publicly listed managed funds that my private superannuation fund invested in has been fully disclosed to this house,” he said.

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“They are all investments that are broadly diversified and they are all funds in which I have no influence over investment decisions of that fund or trust.”

Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones also came under scrutiny over his investment in two Vanguard funds.

Mr Jones said the investments were worth respectively $1272.15 and $4043.51 as of today, had been disclosed and he had ensured they were in compliance with the code.

“I don’t directly own shares and have no say in the investment decisions of the funds,” he said.

Other ministers the opposition raised questions about are Government Services Minister Bill Shorten, Assistant Trade Minister Tim Ayres, Regional Development Minister Kristy McBain and Assistant Health Minister Ged Kearney.

Ms McBain initially transferred her shares to her husband – which is not allowed under the code – before he sold them. Ms Kearney believed she was compliant with the code but has opted to divest from managed funds that had healthcare holdings.

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Mr Shorten inherited a small parcel of shares from his mother, which he has sold, while Senator Ayres has sold shares he had in two healthcare companies he acquired as a union official so he could speak at annual general meetings.

Mr Dutton said ministers were “liquidating their interests at a rate of knots” and there was no consequence for breaching the code of conduct but an attempt to suspend standing orders to censure the government failed.

Mr Albanese defended his frontbenchers. “The fact is my ministerial team have been entirely transparent.“

Leader of the house Tony Burke said if the same code applied to the opposition, multiple shadow members including Mr Dutton would be in breach for owning shares in areas of their portfolio responsibility.

Mr Burke said the tougher code had been brought in after former Coalition minister Christian Porter used a blind trust to fund his legal costs and did not know who the donors were.