Energy, Australian Building and Construction Commissioner Take Note of Answers

Well, it’s great to see Senator Cameron finally being prepared to come in here and actually criticise somebody for misconduct, but he is criticising the wrong person. Today, 13 September, far from being owned by the government, Justice Flick handed down fines for union lawlessness. If Senator Cameron wishes to come in here and talk about people who have broken the law and consequences, when is he going to start criticising the CFMEU for what Justice Flick has described in the most severe of terms?

At least Mr Hadgkiss has resigned. When is Senator Cameron going to call on the leader to the CFMEU to resign? We have a separation of powers in this country between the judiciary, the parliament and the government, and so Justice Flick in no way can be claimed to be the attack dog of the government. This is what he said:

It is difficult, if not impossible, to envisage any worse conduct than that pursued by the CFMEU. The CFMEU assumes a prominent role in the industrial affairs of this country and has consistently exhibited a contempt for compliance with the law.

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… the CFMEU has long demonstrated by its conduct that it pays but little regard to compliance with the law and indeed has repeatedly sought to place itself above the law.

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It is difficult to perceive how such conduct can be regarded as in the best interests of the bulk of its members and the workers it supposedly represents. Such conduct may promote the CFMEU as a “militant” union. But the constraints imposed by the law apply to all – including the CFMEU.

Now, that’s not the minister and that’s not somebody appointed to a commission; that’s a judge who has made that comment in handing down record penalties to the CFMEU—to the CFMEU nationally, $1.326 million and to the CFMEU in New South Wales, $956,000 in fines. In addition to issuing those unprecedented penalties, Justice Flick also referred union officials Brian Parker, Luke Collier, Robert Kera and Tony Sloane to the Director of Public Prosecutions for possible criminal prosecution for allegedly giving false testimony during the proceedings.

We have here a case of great hypocrisy, where Senator Cameron stands up and criticises one individual who, by all accounts—it now appears to be a matter of record—broke the law, has been found guilty and, accordingly, has resigned. Those are the consequences of his action and the judgement of those opposite. But what Senator Cameron and colleagues on the other side of this place are not prepared to do is to come out and criticise the conduct of the CFMEU.

In his judgement today, Justice Flick found that over a long period of time they have consistently sought to place themselves above the law and have broken the law, and have been received with the most significant fines in Australia’s history. Yet, do we hear a single word from those opposite, who are owned by the union movement in this country, to condemn, in any terms—let alone the strong terms that Senator Cameron has just used now about Mr Hadgkiss—the conduct of the CFMEU? It shows the rank hypocrisy of the Labor Party. They are totally owned by the union movement. If they have any decency and any respect for the rule of law in this country, they should come out and condemn, in at least as strong terms, the conduct of the CFMEU, nationally and in New South Wales and, as found in this case just handed down today, because of their actions on the site in Sydney.