Robb takes fat pension into plumb banking job

By Leith van Onselen

There is a long history of Australian politicians going into well-paid private sector jobs after politics – often in the very industries that they used to regulate.

But rarely has it been so blatantly spruiked as under this Coalition Government.

Back in May, Tony Abbott gave a speech to Parliament where he said:

“The member for Groom Ian McFarlane was the resources minister who scrapped the mining tax … It was a magnificent achievement … and I hope that the sector will acknowledge and demonstrate their gratitude to him in his years of retirement from this place.”

In saying so, Abbott basically admitted that the Coalition serves the business community first and foremost. And they expect to be rewarded handsomely for it.

Yesterday, we received another example of questionable behaviour, with former trade minister, Andrew Robb, joining investment bank Moelis & Company selling Australian assets to wealthy Chinese under rules that he developed while in Parliament. From The AFR:

The role with Moelis, a New York-listed investment bank, will see Mr Robb mainly helping Chinese companies looking to enter the Australian market…

Moelis also has an asset management business focused on wealthy Chinese wishing to obtain an Australian passport, through the Significant Investor Visa program.

Mr Robb was responsible for redesigning this program while in government to tilt the required $5 million in investment away from passive bonds, towards higher risk venture capital and small company investments.

Moelis says it has about $1 billion in assets under management from this program.

What the article doesn’t mention is that the rules were changed to be highly compatible with Moelis’ offerings.

As noted by Alan Austin recently:

The rationale for generous pensions for MPs is that they can engage in public service – as Malcolm Fraser did chairing an overseas aid agency – and thus avoid the temptation of corporate payoffs…

So why are these politicians allowed to have their cake and eat it too? Did the Australian tax-payer train Andrew Robb and stick him on a fat pension so he could cream it by selling its best assets to China?

No, s/he did not.

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Unconventional Economist
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    • Strange Economics

      In the UK at least they have a rule that they heve to wait 1 year before joining a private company in their ministry. By then their lobbying power has cooled a little, as their successor starts to blame their predecessor…
      Why not here?

      Superannuation the next one – no wonder Abetz doesnt want the new super scheme giving to low income earners instead of his high income future co-workers.

    • Hard to beat the Premier that gave away our land to Packer now works for crown, but this might just beat it.

      Straya. What a fking joke.

      • Andrew Robb and the Tories sold out Australia. Paying him off with a ‘plum gig’ with an investment bank is an absolute bargain for the mining houses.They made billions out of this. Billions.

      • “Andrew Robb and the Tories sold out Australia.”

        For the sake of fairness (and accuracy) i don’t think you can exclude Labor from that statement.

      • RobW,

        That is quite right. Both Penny Wong and Joel Fitzgibbon were criticizing Robb a few months ago for having some restrictions on agricultural land.

        When it comes to open season flogging off shore – the capital base of Australia and taxpayer guaranteed banking system IOUs – to fund consumption and supply low mortgage rates for the housing ponzi scheme the ALP are just as bad as the LNP.

        Possibly even worse because at least we expect the LNP to act in a treacherous manner when it comes to the common interests of Australians.

      • ‘Twas a harsh sentence for a minor offence.

        I see all the usual suspects are here revelling in various consipiracy collapse and competition for tin foil hats. Fortunately enough sane minds present to prevent ZeroHedgification 😉

        Anyway. Good luck to Robb. He may well have genuine negotiation skills. What else can any pollie do other than exploit political contacts for cash. Most have never had a real job, few offer genuine employable skills other than relationships crafted with fellow politicians and senior bureaucrats.

        As some clever scribe once said

        “Con men, swindlers and cheaters pay bribes. Sophisticates hire lobbyists because lobbyists
        get better, more lasting results while only rarely landing in the slammer.”

      • 3d1k,

        I am looking forward to your ongoing appraisal of the fresh blood and new talent that will be arriving in the senate.

        As for Mr Robb’s retirement plans surely the mining industry has a few custodian positions out of harm’s way for politicians lacking a practical skill set.

        Maybe not in Australia, but some of those developing economies are not too picky when it comes to OHS and productivity from first world ex-pats.

        Certainly better for Australia than having recently departed pollies work as a 5th column for foreign interests.

    • bolstroodMEMBER

      Hi 3d, the place was getting complacent, welcome back.
      Sin Binned? more like a banishment to a desert Gulag.

  1. Stephen Morris

    So why are these politicians allowed to have their cake and eat it too?


    Because elective government in the absence of genuine Democracy adversely selects aggressively narcissistic, machiavellian (and possibly psychopathic) political agents.

    The cure for this is true Democracy.

    And from the BBC this morning, Barroso under fire over Goldman Sachs job:

    Elective government (not Democracy) is simply bought by moneyed interests.

      • Stephen Morris

        It means what I intended it to mean, although psychopathy does tend to overlap with aggressive narcissism and machiavellianism.

        Most psychopaths are not axe-wielding murderers, but those that are able to exercise impulse control are often more dangerous in the long run because they survive for longer, damaging the organisations within which they operate.

    • “Apparently they have already procured or have agreements on the land.”

      I’m willing to bet my house that they haven’t purchased a single piece of land. It’s all options to purchase. Costs them nothing and why wouldn’t a farmer sign up? Absolutely no downside for them if (when) it falls through.

      • You’re right, I should have said ‘procured rights to…

        “The company has been negotiating with property owners for the past 12 months, and has ­secured legal rights over 40 per cent of the land needed for the ­development, more than 16,000 hectares, through option agreements signed with about 70 land owners.”

  2. Wow it wasn’t enough to screw the country with your TPA WHILE being paid by the tax payer, now you have to go and screw the country while being paid by someone else.
    what more proof do we need that there is no free press in this country that this type of thing is not being screamed on the headlines.

  3. Many politicians are reasonable people before they are elected. But after a time they lose their moral compass – what is it about Canberra that corrupts people so completely? I feel nothing but revulsion for what Robb has become. Sadly, he is not an exception.

    • bolstroodMEMBER

      “What is it about Canberra that corrupts people so completly?”
      It is too far away from the populace, therfore not directly answerable to the people. if Parliament was in Sydney or Melbourne,the people could much more easily assemble in large numbers and keep the bastards to frightened to have their wicked ways.

  4. Didn’t Martin Ferguson (former Minister for Resources and Energy) jump in bed with the mining lobby not long after he left parliament? Rightly or wrongly this sort of behaviour helps reinforce the fear many of us have that our professional politicians are way too close to big business.

    And they wonder why so many of us are deserting them for smaller parties and independents.

    • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

      Or more of us could just join one of the main parties and loudly howl down the careerist vermin that infest both parties. I have recently joined the Labor party and intend to make a right Cunt of myself.

      • I like your thinking. I wonder how long i’d last in the Labor party before going postal though.. Can you get monthly memberships?

      • The Labor party in my area frightens me. Is there an electorate less democratic than Wills?

        Edit: I’d rather try to revive The Democrats than join Labor. Music and fashion has a 20 year cycle, I wonder if it is the same for political parties? Though, you’d have trouble with the taint of The American Democrats.

  5. GunnamattaMEMBER

    That Royal Commission into the Banking Sector should also be including links to politicians. It wont happen this term – but that stench will be pretty overpowering in a thousand days.

  6. Should be banned.

    Once you’re out of politics, no life in corporate sector, at least like this.

    With caveats.

    • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

      Simply no Pension for any of those engaged in other employment other than charity or public service.

      Aged pensioners can’t get 6 and 7 figure gigs and still get their pensions!

      • More elegant, agree

        Parliament pension should be foregone in this instance. And travel cards.

      • I’d use it as a justification for a UBI.
        If a politician can hold a pension, and not have it affected by other income sources, then surely all those that qualify for pensions should not have it affected by other income sources. Then, if income sources don’t have an effect upon the receiving of pensions, all now qualify for a pension.
        Introduce UBI, get rid of Centrelink and all the little rorts of the job find industry. Give some dignity back to the long term unemployed, and allow people to look for work, not just fill out forms to say they’ve been a good little boy or girl.

  7. FiftiesFibroShack

    A sensible country has laws dictating the minimum time a politician must be out of office before taking jobs like this. A big ask for our cronyism-drenched political ‘elite’.

  8. surflessMEMBER

    The deputy prime minister is the worst, since the election racing around saying how wonderful all these ‘free trade agreements’ are and looking to sign more. These agreements only really are for benefit for large multinational agribusinesses and not for the rest of economy, you have to question the real movation behind the minister for Rinehart. Since 2014, princess Gina has been on a roll buying into farming businesses.

  9. “Just join fellas,…we could start an MB faction within the party.”

    Now there’s an interesting board-line seditious thought for you..

  10. Toil and Trouble

    How do you prevent this? More importantly, how do you revoke all govt pensions and simply pay 9.5% super on salary? At a minimum, we revok those that engage in non governmental business that directly relates/ benefits from prior ministerial duties. No pension for you!

    • Gardening leave clauses are pretty common in most industries. I’m not sure why you couldn’t have something similar for a Minister.

    • At the very least MP pension should be means tested, just as it is for Joe Blow.

      But as per usual, one set of rules for us and a completely different set for them.