Labor drops call for inquiry into hacking of Christopher Pyne's Twitter account

Katharine Murphy Political editor
Bill Shorten said he was satisfied there were no national security implications after Christopher Pyne’s Twitter account was hacked. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Labor has changed its tune on an inquiry into the hacking of the defence industry minister’s personal Twitter account, with the Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese declaring the issue is now over.

On Thursday the opposition leader, Bill Shorten, supported “some investigation” into the hacking of Christopher Pyne’s Twitter account, but this position was contradicted on Friday morning byAlbanese.

“I spoke to Bill Shorten last night and we are satisfied that this is a public Twitter account, there is no connection between the Twitter account and Christopher’s defence portfolio, he has taken action to deal with it – so as far as we are concerned it is over,” Albanese told the Nine Network on Friday.

“We certainly won’t be supporting Cory Bernardi’s resolution before the Senate and the 1980s schoolboy humour that he has tried on. So as far as we are concerned, let’s get on with the real issues facing the country.”

Shorten on Friday morning lined up with Albanese, saying he had spoken to the government and was now satisfied there were no national security implications.

Pyne says his personal Twitter account was hacked. The account liked a gay pornographic video in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Bernardi, who moved a series of provocative motions in the Senate throughout Thursday, also moved for an inquiry into the hacking of Pyne’s phone. The Australian Conservatives senator and Pyne are longtime bitter factional enemies from their time in the Liberal party in South Australia.

After signalling his support for an investigation on Thursday, Shorten on Friday said he felt for Pyne. “It’s embarrassing for him and his family.”

“I’ve spoken to the government,” he said. “They have reassured me there are no national security implications. If there was, the government would need to explain it, but they’ve reassured me on that.”

Pyne and Albanese are friends. The unlikely friendship was forged in their time as managers of government and opposition during the combative 43rd parliament, when Labor governed in minority – a time when the two were often in combat across the dispatch box.

The minister said on Friday morning that the hacking of his account was “annoying”. He has suggested it may be connected to the yes vote on same-sex marriage this week.

“I was very fast asleep at 2am on Thursday morning and we’ve taken the necessary steps that you would take in these situations,” Pyne said.

The defence industry minister said it was a private account, not one connected to the defence department.

“We’ve changed the passwords, we’ve obviously deleted the material, changed our approach in the office to social media and informed Twitter, which is the same precedent that we followed that Julie Bishop and Scott Morrison went through when they have the same thing happen to them in 2016 and 2014,” Pyne said.

“It is one of those very unfortunate hazards of social media. It is a good reminder to us all, quite frankly, that we need to keep changing our passwords and being aware not everyone out there wishes us goodwill.”

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