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Bruce Bilson Found Not in Contempt for Working as Lobbyist while still an MP

Updated: Jul 20, 2022

Bruce Bilson, a former Liberal Party MP and former Minister for Small Business, accepted a role with the Franchise Council of Australia (FCA) in March of 2016. However, Mr. Bilson did not leave parliament until the 9th of May 2016.

Bruce Bilson, wearing glasses and a suit, with his name as foregrounded text.

Mr. Bilson also failed to declare that he had accepted the $75,000 yearly salaried role as an executive chairman and independent director of the FCA with the parliament's register of interests, drawing criticism the parliamentary privileges committee. Mr. Bilson later revealed to the committee that he had also provided services to the FCA via his private company, Agile Advisory.

In October of 2017, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet cleared Mr. Bilson of breaching any ministerial guidelines or the lobbying code of conduct despite his actions. Despite the parliamentary privileges committee's report stating that there was a "prima facie case that [Billson] is guilty of contempt," as he did not declare a payment of $6250 in April of 2016 within the required 28 days, Mr. Bilson was not actually found to be in contempt by the committee. This was because his conduct did not show “any intention to interfere with the free exercise” of functions of the house and there was “no clear evidence” he had been improperly influenced. Mr. Bilson was censured in March of 2018 but no further action was taken. Were he found to be in contempt of Parliament this would have lead to a potential period of six months in prison or a fine of $5000.

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