Prime Minister Scott Morrison has sought advice over the former attorney-general Christian Porter's decision to allow a blind trust to cover some of his legal fees.
Mr Morrison weighed into the controversial move after former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull publicly lashed Mr Porter who had revealed legal bills in his defamation claim against the ABC were partly paid through a blind trust called the Legal Services Trust.
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister confirmed his department was looking into the matter.
"The Prime Minister is seeking advice from his department on any implications for the Ministerial Standards and any actions the Minister [Porter] must take to ensure that he meets the Standards."
The last time the Prime Minister confirmed he was seeking advice regarding the standards was in the lead up to Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie standing down over the Sports Rorts scandal.
Mr Turnbull, who promoted Mr Porter to attorney-general while prime minister, said politicians should not receive money from undisclosed sources.
"This flies in the face of every principle of accountability and transparency in public life," Mr Turnbull told ABC radio on Wednesday.
"I am staggered that Porter thought he could get away with it and I will be even more staggered if the prime minister allows this to stand. It is a shocking affront to transparency."
On his register of interests, Mr Porter said he had no access to information about the conduct and funding of the trust.
"The Minister has undertaken disclosure in accordance with the requirements of the Register and consistent with previous members' disclosure of circumstances where the costs of personal legal matters have been mitigated by contributions or reductions in fees," a spokesperson for Mr Porter said.
He said no taxpayers' funds were used in meeting the minister's costs of the actions against the ABC, which have now concluded.
He sued the ABC in March over a story that revealed a now-deceased woman's historical rape allegation against a cabinet minister. He emphatically denied the allegation and the case was settled before trial.
Mr Turnbull said banks and political parties were banned from receiving cash from unknown sources and wants the same rules applied to MPs.
"It is so wrong. I'm astonished."
He said disclosure regimes were crucial to stopping the potential for corruption and influence in politics.
"This flings open the door to such extraordinary abrogation of responsibility and accountability," said Mr Turnbull, who was prime minister from 2015 to 2018.
"It honestly cannot stand. There should be absolute outrage about this."
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg defended his cabinet colleague, saying he disclosed the fees in accordance with the rules for politicians.
"The point about Christian Porter's legal defence is he did not use taxpayers' money and that is very important," he told Sky News.
"Labor will continue with their vicious personal smears and campaigns. I don't think Australians have got time for it."
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said the idea Mr Porter didn't know where the money was coming from was unbelievable and absurd.
He said it strengthened the case for a national anti-corruption commission.
"It'd be up this like a rat up a drainpipe to find out exactly where this money has come from," Mr Albanese told reporters.
"It's precisely the sort of issue that undermines confidence in our political system."
- With AAP
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: