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Monday, 7 November 2016
Page: 1956

Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (15:26): I just want to go to the issues that Senator Reynolds and Senator Duniam have raised. Firstly, let me go to what Senator Reynolds has raised here this afternoon when she talks about the important things for the Australian public. I think it is important for the Australian public to know that government funds, public funds and taxpayers' funds are not being handed over to someone who is almost a bankrupt and who is ripping off ordinary Australians, killing their dreams for a house, and ripping off contractors and apprentices in this country. I think these are the important things for Australians. They want to know that taxpayers' money is being properly spent.

What you have seen here is that we had a situation where Bob Day, the former senator, was doing cosy deals with this government, and there are more questions to be asked on this issue. The answers we had today were crafted answers, but they did not go to the questions. While these machinations are going on in the coalition, what is happening out there is that people are getting burnt really badly by the former Senator Bob Day, and it is not just those Australians that were paying deposits to get a house built and might never get that deposit back again. It is not about the employees of Bob Day himself, who were not being paid. Some of them are owed, I understand, about $160,000. While all this was going on, this government was doing cosy deals with Bob Day, and not only on his accommodation and not only on ripping apprentices off—trying to force apprentices onto youth allowance and VET FEE-HELP instead of a contract of employment and a contract of training. This guy was up to every rort. Bob Day was up to every rort he could get his hands on, and he was ripping people off, and this government was standing by, helping him to do it. That is what it was doing, providing $2 million-plus when it was asked for $1.4 million for its little mate. Two million dollars gets handed over to train 20 apprentices. How ridiculous can that get?

So there will be more questions on this government's relationship with the former Senator Bob Day. There will be more questions about who knew what and when, and what was done to protect taxpayers' money, because this is nothing more than a rort that has gone on. This is nothing more than cosying up to Bob Day because he was the most consistent number on the crossbench for this government. Whatever Bob Day asked for Bob Day was going to get from this government. 'It does not matter if he breached the Constitution; push that aside, hide it under the carpet. He's a regular vote for us. He'll do what he's told in terms of any vote.' That was the driving force behind saying to Bob Day, 'You can stay in the office that you previously owned, with all the linkages that were still there.' That was the reason he was handed over $2 million to train 20 apprentices—20 apprentices for $2 million! That is why they have no idea about any approach to dealing with taxpayers' money effectively when it comes to Bob Day. It was just, 'Do what you need to do.'

I see One Nation senators there, listening intently. Senators, if you want to get an idea about how you get something out of this government then follow Bob Day's lead, because they will not ask any questions, they will not do anything and there will be no probity involved. It will simply be about getting your vote. That is the issue here. They have got no credibility on this issue whatsoever. (Time expired)

Question agreed to.