Pictures of cabinet minister Simon Birmingham visiting a trades training school with Bob Day six months before the school received a controversial $2 million grant from the federal government have sparked claims by Labor that Senator Birmingham misled the Senate
The company run by former Senator Bob Day has gone into liquidation owing millions.
The pictures, taken in May 2015, have placed a question mark over Senator Birmingham's explanation at a recent Senate hearing about his depth of knowledge of the former Family First senator's involvement in the North East Vocational College in suburban Adelaide.
As questions began to mount about the $2 million grant to the college, Senator Birmingham was asked at an estimates hearing on October 20 whether he knew Mr Day was a director of North East Vocational before public money was ploughed into the college to fund the crossbencher's pet project, a pilot program known as "student builders".
Senator Birmingham responded: "I know that Senator Day knew of the North East Vocational College. I cannot say that I recall that he had any role in it, but that is not to say that I had not been told that at some stage."
But four photos posted on North East Vocational's Facebook page in May 2015 – a month before Mr Day met Senator Birmingham in the minister's Canberra office to pitch for funding for his pilot program – suggest Mr Day had not kept his hands-on role, which included 10 years as chairman, with the college at all secret
Tagged "Senators Birmingham & Day visit NEVC", the pictures show the pair meeting students and college staff at the small St Agnes campus of the school in northern Adelaide.
Labor's Doug Cameron, who has been pursuing the apprenticeships grants matter in Parliament, said the emergence of the pictures calls into question Senator Birmingham's version of events.
Sadly this totally unaccountable government and compliant, lazy media will let this get swept under the carpet.