The former defence minister Christopher Pyne’s firm is lobbying for a Sydney-based space company that has won more than $2m in contracts from the defence department in the past year.
Pyne’s lobbying firm, GC Advisory Pty Ltd, was last month engaged by Saber Astronautics, a company that offers services to support space operations, conducts research and development and designs space systems.
Last month it took part in a joint exercise with US military organisations to test US space forces’ preparedness for combat.
Tender records show Saber, in the 12 months before it engaged GC Advisory, won three contracts with the defence department worth about $2.7m. That includes a $2.1m contract awarded in July to provide “intelligent data fusion services”.
The contracts were all awarded through an open and competitive process and there is no suggestion of impropriety.
But concerns have been raised about the engagement of Pyne’s firm. The lobbying code prohibits former government ministers from engaging “in lobbying activities relating to any matter that they had official dealings with in their last 18 months in office”.
Ministerial standards prevent former ministers from lobbying or holding business meetings with members of the government, parliament, public service or defence force on any matter for which they held ministerial responsibility for 18 months after leaving parliament.
They also require ministers not to use information they have obtained in office for private gain.
A Senate inquiry has already considered Pyne’s acceptance of a job with consulting giant EY to help grow its defence business. Pyne has previously been cleared of any breach of the standards by the department of prime minister and cabinet.
The crossbench senator Rex Patrick said the lobbying for Saber appeared to be a repeat of the EY case.
“Unfortunately we’ve in some sense exhausted of what we can do because it’s a repeat of the conduct that the inquiry has already looked at,” Patrick told Guardian Australia. “It just reaffirms the problem with what has been allowed to happen by the prime minister. The prime minister has … in effect he has a standard that has no standard.”
GC Advisory said that Pyne did not lobby for any defence clients and complied with all rules.
“As stated at the Senate inquiry, Mr Pyne is well aware of the code of conduct for previous ministers and he abides by it,” a spokesman said.
Pyne is one of two principals working at the firm. The other is Adam Howard, a former chief of staff to Pyne, who left the office more than a year ago.
The lobbyist register – the only real public window into federal lobbying – does not currently show Saber as a client of GC Advisory.
The relationship is revealed in evidence presented to the Senate inquiry on Tuesday detailing GC Advisory’s clients.
A response to a question on notice by the attorney-general’s department lists Saber as a “pending” client of GC Advisory as of September 3.
Saber did not respond to requests for comment.