Claims One Nation candidate ripped off tradies
ONE Nation candidate Matthew Stephen has fronted breakfast TV this morning in an attempt to quash claims he owes tens of thousands of dollars to disgruntled tradies.
Mr Stephen is gunning for the federal Queensland seat of Longman and will head to the polls this weekend in what's been dubbed the "Super Saturday" by-election.
But days before the election, Mr Stephen has come out swinging, taking to Facebook yesterday to claim Labor is leading a smear campaign against him.
"There's this fake news online outlet trying to punch out that I owe some money, it's simply not true," Mr Stephen said in the video.
"Bill Shorten, he's extremely worried, we've got him on the hop. I find it ironic, a week out from the election, all this rubbish starts rising to the top. I know we've got you scared Bill."
Despite Mr Stephen rubbishing the claims, a handful of Queenslanders have spoken publicly about how the aspiring politician has left them tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket.
Speaking on Today, Gold Coast subcontractor Matthew Young said he's owed about $6500 from a Darwin project he worked on with Mr Stephen in 2014.
Mr Young also claimed his brother was owed $11,000 and he knew "five or six more guys" that were owed similar amounts.
All up, the Gold Coast tradesman said the group of subcontractors were waiting on $30,000 to $50,000 from Mr Stephen.
"Why should a guy like this be in parliament? If he's going to do this to us, what's he going to do when he's in parliament," Mr Young told Today host Sylvia Jefferys.
Mr Young admitted he'd been approached by Labor, which is fighting to hold onto Longman, and that the party had asked him about his experiences with Mr Stephen, but he said the party hadn't offered him any guidance.
The Gold Coast tradesman isn't the first person to claim they're waiting on money from Mr Stephen.
Nick Fullerton, a Darwin tiler, previously claimed he was underpaid for three separate jobs while working for Mr Stephen's former company AusTile.
And Stavros Mostris, who leased a property to Mr Stephen's former company, previously told The Courier-Mail he's owed thousands in unpaid rent.
Mr Stephen has denied all claims.
Immediately after Mr Young's interview, the breakfast show crossed to Mr Stephen.
The Longman candidate denied hearing from Mr Young and said his contact details had stayed the same for 10 years.
"If I owe anybody money in the country, anybody at all, my email hasn't changed, my phone number hasn't changed. Please get in contact with me and we will sort it out," he said.
When quizzed about owing a Darwin builder $13,000 for defective work, Mr Stephen insisted he had met "every single financial obligation".
Jeffreys was left scratching her head when she questioned whether or not Mr Stephen had heard from Mr Young about the thousands.
"To be honest that's the first time I've heard from Matthew Young in years and years and years and years and that was on your show this morning in the ad break," Mr Stephen said.
"So you did not speak to him over the phone in 2014/15?" Jeffreys responded.
"Oh, possibly four years ago, maybe, I couldn't tell ya," he said.
"You just said you haven't spoken to him in years and years and years, that's only four years ago?" Jeffreys asked.
"Well, 2014 is quite a few years ago," Mr Stephens said.
A minute after that, there was another awkward moment when the sound appeared to cut out halfway through Jeffreys asking if Mr Stephen's former company owed anyone anything.
"What about your former company AusTile? Are there any outstanding matters linked to that company?"
Midway through the question Mr Stephen cut her off, "I think I've lost you".
Eventually the sound was re-established and Mr Stephen again impressed his details had stayed the same.
"That company, I can't comment on somebody else's affairs. I've met every single financial obligation of me but if I owe anybody any money please get in touch with me and we can sort it out," he said.
Mr Stephen can't bank on any further help on the hustings from One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, who has gone on a holiday to the UK just days out from the by-election.
Ms Hanson has previously said she booked the holiday because she was "worn out" and Mr Stephen said there was no disappointment.
"Absolutely not. I mean, it's probably the second most ridiculous thing I have heard this morning. Look, Pauline Hanson was here for a week, she spent 12 hours a day with me. We went through every single pub and club unannounced. Not behind closed doors. I speak to her every single day of the week. She will be on the polling booths and you can get a selfie.
She will be there on the ground in Longman on Saturday with you. Come down and grab a photo with Pauline Hanson on the booth," he said.
- With wires