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Monday, 7 November 2016
Page: 2931

Day, Mr Bob, AO

Ms PLIBERSEK (SydneyDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (15:05): My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Training. I refer to reports that the grant to a trades training centre college linked to former senator Bob Day was equivalent to $92,000 for each of the 20 students enrolled in the program, despite the fact that an equivalent qualification could have been completed at TAFE for just $3,000 per student. Does the minister agree that this grant was excessive?

Mr HUNT (FlindersMinister for Industry, Innovation and Science) (15:06): I am aware that the South Australian government recently attended the North East Vocational Colleges student builder project, and they were very supportive of it—the South Australian Labor government. So let me provide some facts on this program. Firstly, because of course this is dealing with the issue of former Senator Day, the advice that I have is that the liquidation of Bob Day's building and construction company, Home Australia, will not have an impact on the North East Vocational Colleges student builder pilot. The second point is that the student builder pilot is being delivered currently and in accordance with the agreement. Thirdly, I am also advised that the senator has resigned as a member of the college board and I am advised that board members do not receive any payment, and I am also advised that the former senator does not have a financial interest in the North East Vocational College. So the advice we have is that it is being delivered on time and in accordance with the grant.

But, if our friends on the opposition benches want to talk about the way in which these matters should be handled, let me remind them of three names: Craig Thomson, who was given a ringing endorsement from the Leader of the Opposition; Eddie Obeid, who provides ski trips to his friends—

The SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business on a point of order.

Mr Burke: As would be easily predicted, it is on direct relevance, Mr Speaker.

The SPEAKER: And I say to the minister before he resumes: he is entitled to compare and contrast. I think he—

Ms Plibersek interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Sydney has been warned and I would like her to be able to hear the answer to the question she has asked while she is in the chamber. I say to the minister: he is entitled to compare and contrast, and I think he has done that.

Mr HUNT: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, and I accept, acknowledge and appreciate the advice. In that spirit—

The SPEAKER: It is not advice; it is a ruling.

Mr HUNT: let me note, in sum, that we have looked at this matter, and the advice that I have is crystal clear. All of the matters which were agreed as part of the project have been delivered and are being delivered. Those elements which were required to trigger the first round of payments were appropriately delivered. That is the advice, and that stands in contrast to what we saw from the other side, where they stood by as extraordinary wrongdoing was condoned, allowed and facilitated.