The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade set up an official e-mail address for Penny Wong in the lead-up to the election, which listed her as “Minister”.
DFAT secretary Frances Adamson told Senate estimates on Thursday that the “shell address” was set up for Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman on the Friday night before the May 18 election.
She said the address, which was not activated, was needed to ensure the “Red Book” incoming government brief could be delivered to Senator Wong if Labor won the election.
“The judgement was made that in order to be equally ready to serve an elected government, whatever its complexion, this was something that we needed to do,” Ms Adamson said.
“I want to be absolutely explicit that DFAT, as a department of impartial public servants, had no view on what the election outcome would be.”
In a global address list, Senator Wong’s title was referenced as “Minister” under the name Wong, Penny Y.
An email address was also prepared for a member of Senator Wong’s staff.
Ms Adamson said Senator Wong was not made aware of the email account, and did not request it.
Senator Wong told estimates that DFAT and secretary Adamson “have a very fine reputation of impartiality”.