House debates

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Statements by Members


1:30 pm

Photo of Brendan O'ConnorBrendan O'Connor (Gorton, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Employment and Industry) Share this | | Hansard source

[by video link] Senate estimates today revealed that the Morrison government provided the small business body COSBOA with $5 million to provide research and assist in the national campaign to encourage all Australians to support their local small businesses—a very worthy goal, which Labor supports. We do support the GO LOCAL FIRST campaign, and we have no reason to think COSBOA has acted improperly. However, given the track record of this government, and given that the hyperpartisan Liberal Party pollster Crosby Textor received some of this taxpayers' money to assist with this campaign without having to bid for the work in an open tender, Labor has the following questions for the government: Can the government guarantee data from the campaign won't be used subsequently in a politically partisan manner? Why are there no reporting requirements to government? How much of the $5 million ended up in the pockets of Crosby Textor? Why didn't the government ensure that taxpayer expenditure was subject to an open tender? Was COSBOA required as a condition of this funding to tender for such work? Did Mark Textor or anyone from Crosby Textor speak with the Prime Minister or the minister or their officers about this matter? These questions should be answered, otherwise we can conclude that the government has something to hide.