Angus Taylor, the energy and emission reduction minister, has again defended his business interests in a company that was under investigation for clearing of native grasslands, declaring he always acted within parliamentary rules.
The government faced a question of both houses of parliament over Taylor's shareholdings in Jam Land Pty Ltd, which holds via his family investment company Gufee.
Taylor has been repeatedly asked if he had any conflicts with the department officials and Josh Frydenberg's office in 2017 about the grasslands at the center of the departmental investigation.
Taylor and Frydenberg are now facing a possible parliamentary inquiry into their conduct. Labor’s leaders in the Senate, Penny Wong, will move on to the Senate's environment and communications references committee.
Guardian Australia revealed in June that Taylor met with Frydenberg's office and department officials to discuss the federal government's designation of the critically endangered grasslands known as the natural temperate grassland of the south-eastern highlands.
New South Wales and Federal State Investigations in the State of New York
After lobbying by Taylor, Frydenberg's office canvassed whether protections for the grasslands could be watered down and if the change had to be published.
In the House of Representatives on Wednesday, asked whether Taylor had properly disclosed to his financial interest in Jam Land.
They pointed to statements and made in Tuesdays question time in which he said he had “no association” with Jam Land and had “remained at arm's length from the company”.
The opposition's leader of business, Tony Burke, added that Taylor's most recent declaration of interest to the list of shares in Jam Land.
Taylor's declaration does not mention his shares in Jam Land, but it does list his shares in Gufee, which is one of the main shareholders in Jam Land.
Taylor told question time this declaration was in accordance with parliamentary rules. "My indirect interest in Jam Land through my family company has been reported in the media and declared in accordance with the rules," he said.
"As I have also said in the previous question, I have never made a representation in relation to it. "
The government of Taylor and Frydenberg’s office in March 2017
The Greens are looking for an explanation for the Senate this week.
Wong used question time in the upper house on Wednesday to ask whether Taylor's business interests had been properly declared.
"Simon Pty Ltd," asked Simon Birmingham.
The Labor senator Jenny McAllister said Birmingham and the government's Senate leader, Mathias Cormann, had failed for two days to explain the circumstances around the meetings in 2017.
"It is striking how unwilling they have been to add even the best bit of a story to this story and it's a big tell," she said in the Senate.
"I am not a member of the general public but I have been around long enough to know when you get answers like that which are being provided, there is a cover-up going on .
"People are scrambling. The senators who have been answering questions in this place have been desperate to keep their hands off this. "
McAllister pointed to documents obtained by the Guardian Australia
"The whole affair stinks. "It said." It said.