Communications Minister Michelle Rowland is facing calls to resign following reports she received two donations to her election campaign from a popular online gambling company.
The minister holds portfolio responsibility for gambling laws and the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
House leader Tony Burke launched a staunch defence of Ms Rowland, saying she had not broken any rules and had used her time in the portfolio to strengthen policies to tackle problem gambling.
On Thursday, Nine newspapers reported Sportsbet paid $8960 for a place at a dinner held to support Ms Rowland’s 2022 federal election campaign.
Three days before the election, Sportsbet also donated $10,000 to her campaign.
While the betting giant disclosed the $10,000 donation to the Australian Electoral Commission, Labor’s NSW branch was not required to declare the payments because they were under the $14,500 mandatory disclosure threshold.
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie – with the support of others on the cross bench – attempted to move a motion that would require the minister to explain herself to parliament, saying she was “completely and utterly conflicted”.
“She has poor judgment, has conflicts of interest and should not spend a moment longer as the minister,” he said.
“The prime minister should act to dismiss the minister from her portfolio if she doesn’t have the good sense, and quite frankly the honour, to come in here and resign herself.”
The government rejected the motion and Mr Burke defended the minister as being of “extraordinary ability and impeccable integrity”.
“There is no argument that … the minister for communications has made life easier for gambling companies,” he said.
“The only actions the minister has taken are the opposite to what those donors would have wanted.”
Earlier in Question Time, independent MP Zoe Daniel asked the minister to confirm the reports and explain how they were not a conflict of interest.
Ms Rowland, who did not directly address the claims, betano es confiable said every member of parliament had to comply with the rules of disclosure.
“I have and will continue to comply with the disclosure requirements of the AEC, the register of members’ interests and the ministerial code of conduct,” she said.
Greens senator Larissa Waters said the minister had not broken any laws, but that showed how weak Australia’s donation rules were.
“It is clearly untenable for the minister to remain as gambling regulator when she has such a cosy relationship with betting agencies,” she said.
“These donations are an insult to voters and gambling reform advocates across Australia.”