SUBJECTS: Bob Day’s Resignation; ABCC; Newspoll.
KIERAN GILBERT: Joining me on the program now is Labor’s Employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor. Mr O’Connor thanks very much for your time. You’re calling on the Government not to accept Bob Day’s vote on the Building and Construction Commission legislation. If he’s still in Parliament, why can’t he vote on it?
BRENDAN O’CONNOR, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT AND WORKPLACE RELATIONS: Well he can choose to vote. What is interesting I think Kieran is he made a decision to resign because his company has left people victims, not having houses built and so on. He made a clear decision to resign and he wanted to clearly anoint his successor and not allow his Party to make that decision. Now something has happened since his earlier announcement and today where he is delaying his decision to leave the Senate to deal with the scandals that have occurred as a result of some of the decisions made by his own company.
I think it is very unusual that having made the decision to resign he is now delaying that decision. Look I just want to know what conversations have happened between Senator Day and the Government to change his mind in delaying his resignation.
GILBERT: But you’re saying that Mr Turnbull must rule out accepting the vote of the Family First Senator, that’s a statement that has been released this morning, why should he?
O’CONNOR: Well the first thing I’d like to know Kieran is why has Senator Day delayed his decision to resign given there are so many victims as a result of the failure of his companies to deliver houses for those people. People are left without houses being built.
He made a decision to go, he’s changed his mind. I’d certainly like to know what has caused him to delay his decision. Why won’t he allow Family First to preselect his successor and indeed has the Government been involved in his decision to no longer resign and allow him to vote on these two Bills. I think that’s an important question given he announced his resignation some weeks ago.
GILBERT: That’s fine to ask that question but then I ask you again, you’ve said that Malcom Turnbull should rule out accepting the vote of the Family First Senator, why is that, given if he still is in the Parliament he is entitled to the vote?
O’CONNOR: Look the first matter is why has he delayed his decision to resign? And I think it would appear that having made the decision to leave, he wanted to hand pick his successor. Let’s be honest. Bob Day has been a supporter of the Liberal Party for the entire time. He’s misrepresented his position. He left as a former candidate in the preselection for the Liberal Party. He then joined Family First and literally voted with the Liberal Party in almost every circumstance in the last Parliamentary term. He’s never acted independently or indeed reflecting the Family First values as far as I can see. And now he wants to determine the successor of himself because he doesn’t want Family First to make that decision. I think there is something completely amiss here and we need to get to the bottom of it. Why is it now that he won’t leave the Parliament? Why is he now trying to make a decision as to who is his successor rather than leave it to the Party that he supposedly represents?
GILBERT: But you concede that Malcolm Turnbull is well within his rights and his Government to accept the vote of a Senator while they are still in the Parliament?
O’CONNOR: Well I would say that if the Government has been involved in conversations for the Senator to delay his resignation, I think the public deserve to know that. And I think that should be answered by the Government and by Senator Day before Senator Day even considers voting on the two Bills.
GILBERT: You’ve got the Newspoll number out today. Bill Shorten’s approval has edged up a point, it’s gradual but it still trails Malcolm Turnbull – who is very unpopular right now - by 10 points as preferred PM. Is that still a worry given while Malcolm Turnbull’s on the nose, your leader’s even more so?
O’CONNOR: Well, I think it’s fair to say Malcolm Turnbull’s in a lot of trouble. In fact I think Tony Abbott, his predecessor, was better placed in the polls when Malcolm Turnbull stabbed him in the back and took him out as Prime Minister.
So I think Malcolm Turnbull on his own measure, against his own standard, would conclude he’s got a lot of work to do. One of the reason’s, Kieran, is that he’s a hollow man. He doesn’t stand for anything. He gives in and surrenders to the far right of his Party. He gives up on climate change and marriage equality too quickly. And I think the public are sick of the fact that he doesn’t seem to stand for anything. And of course the Government is deeply divided. You saw Senator Sinodinos only last night not ruling out the return of Tony Abbott, so this is a Government in disarray. That’s reflected in the polls.
GILBERT: The last question I want to ask you about is the future of the Attorney General. Given there was a breakdown in that relationship – just quickly, only 20 or 30 seconds left – is it a totally inappropriate situation where the Solicitor General moves on, and the Attorney General seeks a replacement?
O’CONNOR: I think what’s happened here is the person who told the truth got sacked, and the person who told lies to the parliament is still there, and that’s another problem for the Government.
GILBERT: Alright. We’re out of time, unfortunately. A bit tight this morning. But Brendan O’Connor, thank you as always.