An Australian politician has come under attack for moonlighting at Minter Ellison.
Patrick Conlon, a Labor Party member of the South Australia parliament since 1997 and a cabinet minister for many of those years, on Monday joined the Adelaide office of Minter Ellison as a part-time solicitor working three days a week. According to press reports, the firm is paying him roughly $152,000 a year, almost exactly the same as his salary from parliament.
The news has unleashed a firestorm of criticism from opposition politicians and the press, which have variously dubbed Conlon, who represents a suburban Adelaide district called Elder, "Part-time Pat" and the "Member for Minter Ellison."
In a statement, Vickie Chapman, deputy leader of the opposition Liberal Party called on Conlon to resign immediately from the parliament. "Mr. Conlon should be working for his constituents in Elder, not for a law firm," she said.
The Advertiser of Adelaide said in an editorial that, as long as he is on the public payroll, Conlon "should be focused on one thing only–his job as the Member for Elder. The decision to take on the Minter Ellison role will be condemned by many voters."
Conlon, who is not planning to seek re-election next year, has pointed out that other members of parliament have also worked on the side.
"What I am doing is no more than people in here have been doing for years," Conlon told The Australian, "and I can think of current Liberal examples who spend time on family farms and businesses."
He also said he believes that, even with his new role, he will be more available to his constituents now than he has been previously.
Minter Ellison said in a statement Conlon’s work for the firm would absolutely not interfere with his duties to parliament and his constituents.
"We are pleased that Patrick has joined our talented team and look forward to the benefits this exciting new relationship will bring to Minter Ellison SA/NT," said Adam Bannister, managing partner of Minter Ellison’s associated South Australia and New Territories offices.
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