ABC NEWS RADIO – MARIUS BENSON WEDNESDAY, 2 NOVEMBER 2016
MARIUS BENSON: Doug Cameron, good morning.
SENATOR DOUG CAMERON, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR SKILLS AND APPRENTICESHIPS: Good morning Marius.
BENSON: Can I begin with the statement that has just been put out by Bob Day in which, I will read it to you, “I Bob Day, I am calling on all MP’s and Senators to immediately disclose whether they have any financial interest in any property or company that has a contract, lease, or agreement of any kind with the Commonwealth”.
He is obviously trying to find out who might be in the position he is in. Can I ask you are you in the position of having any such agreement?
CAMERON: Certainly not and I would doubt whether too many other, if any other, politicians would be in that position because most politicians are very aware of Section 44/5 of the Constitution which basically requires that you don’t have any funding or any money coming from the Commonwealth.
BENSON: So you can’t have Commonwealth money going into something, in an entirely hypothetical case, you can’t have the Commonwealth paying rent for a property that you own?
CAMERON: Yes. It is a very very clear position if you read this literally and that is you cannot have any funding from the Commonwealth for any private gain.
BENSON: This is now going to be referred to the High Court and I somewhat facetiously saying a hypothetical case, but it is hypothetical because Bob Day says he is not in that sort of circumstance. Bob Day says that electoral office which is the centre of this discussion, in fact no rent was ever paid by the Commonwealth on that office. I suppose that will be hammered out in court but he is saying he is completely in the clear.
CAMERON: Well if he is completely in the clear then why would the Coalition of all people be referring this to the High Court and having briefed Penny Wong we agree it should go to the High Court. This is not about just direct pecuniary interests, it’s indirect pecuniary interests as well. This is the big problem that seems to be coming along is that the Government knew about this for some time and hadn’t acted on it until he was forced to resign.
BENSON: And the High Court is probably going to make it a priority but it will still take time. Parliament resumes next week and the situation is I guess there is going to be 75 Senators instead of 76.
CAMERON: Well that’s right and this is more chaos for the Turnbull government. They are on a knife edge in the Senate in terms of voting and I would assume that this is going to make it even more difficult for them to attack workers’ wages and conditions, which I think is a good thing.
BENSON: The Labor Party is apparently hoping that it may be the collateral beneficiary of all of this because there could be a recount and the seat until now held by Family First may be subject to a recount. The beneficiaries may be Labor, may be One Nation. Do you have any certainty of what may fall from that?
CAMERON: No I certainly don’t. It really depends on the High Court and how the High Court interprets this number one, and secondly if there is a need to do a recount, how that would be done. These are issues for the High Court and I couldn’t pre-empt that.
BENSON: But it’s also an issue isn’t it for the State Government because Senators represent the States and its up to the State Government - famously in “75 a Senator was replaced not with a Labor Senator when a Labor Senator went but with somebody else by Joh Bjelke- Petersen.
It’s Jay Weatherill who finally decides is it who takes this position as a Senator from South Australia?
CAMERON: Well again it depends on what the High Court determines, it could be a completely different proposition and I would think that Jay Weatherill would be horrified to be mentioned in the same sentence as Joh Bjelke- Petersen!
Jay Weatherill would apply the Constitution and I am confident of that.
BENSON: Looks like an interesting High Court decision ahead. Doug Cameron thank you.
CAMERON: Yes, more chaos for Turnbull.