Nationals Senator Barry O'Sullivan.
Nationals Senator Barry O'Sullivan.

Toowoomba senator may have breached the constitution

GOVERNMENT backbencher Barry O'Sullivan may have fallen foul of the constitution because of family business dealings.

The Queensland senator's family's construction company Newlands Civil Construction is subcontracted to work on an 80 per cent federal government funded project - the Toowoomba second range crossing.

The $2.5 million contract covers demolition work, sewerage diversion, water mains and site access gates, according to the company's website.

Senator O'Sullivan may be in breach of section 44 of the constitution, which states a member or senator can be disqualified where there is "any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the public service of the Commonwealth".

Senator O'Sullivan's son, who is also named Barry, is the managing director of Newlands.

"The O'Sullivan family remains the controlling shareholders of the group," his Linkedin profile states.

"Newlands has grown from a small family operation to an organisation that now employs in excess of 100 staff with additional management oversight of up to 60 independent subcontractors."

Senator O'Sullivan yesterday denied he "either directly or indirectly, holds a pecuniary interest in any agreement with the public service of the Commonwealth."

He insists his interests are published publicly, in their entirety, and methodical effort is taken to ensure these details are updated thoroughly.

"Importantly, a review by Newlands Civil Construction has proven that it does not hold any agreement with any company or entity that has an agreement with the public service of the Commonwealth," he said in a statement.

He pointed the media to his register of interests which was last updated in May.

On the second page under the section shareholdings in public and private companies Senator O'Sullivan lists Newlands Civil Construction Pty Ltd.

In April, the High Court found Family First senator Bob Day was ineligible to sit in parliament because he indirectly benefited from the government's lease arrangement on his Adelaide electorate office.