ABC and Student Unions
I was really interested in what happened here earlier this afternoon. I am very new to this place and some of the old hands who are here have said they have never seen anything like it—like the shambles that took place with Labor, the cataclysmic destruction of Labor's position. Sitting on this side of the chamber, looking across at Labor senators, I wondered what the collective noun would be for 'stunned mullets'. I know what it is: it is the Senate Labor caucus. They had no idea what was going on. I shall remember today for a long time. I also hear that Senator Wong's leadership is under attack, that Senator Conroy, who got 98 per cent of the vote for his pre-selection—a very North Korean vote and I congratulate him, I would love to get 98 per cent for my re-preselection hopefully in a few years time. I shudder to think what has happened to the two per cent who did not vote for Senator Conroy. My friends in the gallery understand that Senator Conroy is walking the corridors, doing numbers to rid Labor of Senator Wong. I am not here to talk about the Labor shambles this afternoon.
I want to talk about the ABC and about what happened on Q&A last night. I also want to talk about some union dodginess that is taking place over in Western Australia and also something that is taking place in Queensland. I will get to the union dodginess later; I want to talk about the ABC. Unfortunately, I think a position has been taken by some people who think that I, Senator McGrath, do not like the ABC. I love the ABC and I will protest to the day I die how much I love the ABC. I am devastated I missed Doctor Who on Sunday night because I was stuck on a plane. I love my local ABC on the Sunshine Coast. I think they do a fantastic job, but I do not like Q&A. I think the ABC is allowing Q&A to poison the well of community support for the ABC. Last night once again we saw another program from Q&A with five people on the panel but only one person from the centre right—Minister Keenan from the other place. We had four panelists who are clearly left of centre and, of course, we had the compare, who is also clearly left of centre. It would be nice, just once, actually more than once—supposedly the ABC is for all of Australia. It is supposed to be our ABC, but it is not.
The ABC is there for only a monitory of people if you watch Q&A. It would be nice for the panel to have more than one conservative or Liberal person on the panel. It would be nice for the ABC to have two, three or four people and it would be nice to have a compare who would occasionally tack to the centre right. That would be fantastic, but pigs might fly. Then we get to the audience. I noticed last night the ABC said that 39 per cent of the audience members were coalition supporters. That is a clear fib. I do not know where they are getting these people from. I do not know what methods, classification or self-selection is going on with the ABC where they say the audience is 39 per cent but it is clearly not. I do not think I have seen any Q&A program where I would be happy to say that 10 per cent of the audience would be coalition supporters. It is not because coalition supporters do not clap as much as those on the Left or we do not hollow and cheer as much; it is just that the audiences are clearly always biased to the Left and to the Far Left. I think it is dangerous for the ABC to continue with this. We saw some media over the last couple of the days that the ABC once again are flying a kite, that they want to get rid of Lateline because of cost cutting. We saw a kite being flown previously about Peppa Pig being abolished. I love Peppa Pig—I think it is a great program. My godchildren think it is fantastic. I would say to the ABC, abolish Q&A and put Peppa Pig on because you will get more insightful political commentary from Peppa Pig than you will from Q&A. So if you want to get rid of a program, I nominate Q&A.
I am not here just to talk about the ABC; I am here to talk about some unfortunate events that have been taking place in a couple of student unions. What we have learnt about the Labor Party and the Left is that they get them while they are young and they learn bad things while they are young because the twin pillars of the union movement in this country at the moment are financial dodginess and political dodginess.
There are two student unions at the moment where some bad things are going down. I would like to read a letter that I have had cause to be sent to the police commissioner of Western Australia this afternoon.
Dear Commissioner O'Callaghan
I write to request that you please investigate an alleged fraud within the Student Guild at the University of Western Australia.
I am concerned an alleged fraud of hundreds of thousands of dollars against may have been perpetrated against students.
I will be able to provide details on request.
What has happened over there is that it is alleged that between $800,000 and $900,000 of student money, SSAF money, compulsorily acquired student money, has been misappropriated within the guild. A fun fact: it is more than twice what Craig Thomson took from the HSU. It is more than 40 per cent of the guild's annual budget. Forensic accountants, I am informed, were engaged to investigate and conduct a full audit. That is a good thing; that is accountability. The accountants were only called in after several months of the Labor-controlled student guild refusing to be held to account for the dodginess that had taken place. Despite BDO having confirmed that the money is missing, the Labor-controlled student guild—who were in the middle of an election this week—are refusing to do anything about it. They have effectively created a quasi-protection racket and they have not released the audit report or any information to the guild's 20,000 student members.
I have written to the police commissioner to ask him to investigate, but I am also calling on the university to intervene. This is a serious case of alleged fraud against students. And where are the Labor students on this? What we are seeing is a big, fat, stinking cover-up by Labor students. Allegations of theft have been covered up by Labor students in a scandal that would make the Watergate burglars blush with embarrassment. Labor students should be standing up for students and not hiding alleged wrongdoing.
It is not just the University of Western Australia where dodginess has happened. There is also Griffith University—and I should declare a conflict of interest. I am an alumni of Griffith University, where I went for five years. I did not bother the lecturers too much. What we have seen at Griffith University is that the student representative council have held meetings without quorum and without giving sufficient notice in order to call the elections while also appointing a Labor official as their returning officer.
Senator O'Sullivan: That's terrible.
Senator McGRATH: Thank you, Senator O'Sullivan. No sufficient notice was given in terms of when this election should be called. They are also voting this week in an election that is effectively ultra vires. The university had a conversation with the student representative council, and the student representative council, despite calling an election with insufficient notice, without having a quorum at the meeting, decided, 'We won't proceed with Labor's returning officer', and they appointed someone else—at a meeting that also did not have sufficient notice. So we have a further example of Labor students and Labor unions failing to follow due process. We have alleged fraud over in the west, and we have fraud at Griffith University that would make poor Mr Joske turn in his grave in terms of failing to follow basic meeting procedure.
I call upon Griffith University to stop washing their hands of this matter. This reflects poorly upon Griffith University. They do have an obligation to intervene. I am calling upon Griffith University to intervene and, if they do not, we are just going to keep on going with this.