• CFMMEU heads to court over whistleblower proceedings.
  • Fights hard in the first week to stop Royal Commission evidence being considered.

In the round up last week we advised members that proceedings commenced by two ex-CFMMEU officials were headed to Court, after they commenced legal action against the union for undertaking adverse action against them by discrimination against members of the CFMMEU for their political opinion.

The case relates to an appearance the two officials made on the ABC’s 7.30 Report in October 2014, alleging that the federal union was involved with serious criminals and that it was embroiled in corruption.

Subsequent to the television appearance, the officials were dismissed for what they described as ‘gross misbehaviour’.

The case has been set down for two weeks of hearings – which have commenced this week and immediately hit a roadblock after the CFMMEU made an application to have much of the pleadings and particulars lodged by the officials legal counsel struck out. The CFMMEU argued that these documents referred to evidence produced in the Trade Union Royal Commission, which alleges past criminal conduct of CFMMEU officials however does not prove it, and effectively amounts to a new set of allegations against the officials that should not be considered in the whistleblower proceedings.

On Tuesday, a Federal Court Judgment https://www.judgments.fedcourt.gov.au/judgments/Judgments/fca/single/2020/2020fca0303 was handed down on this single matter, finding that some elements of the officials claim should be amended.

The extremely technical nature of the CFMMEUs arguments, evidence by the tone of certain statements of Justice Perram (for example, paragraph 9, stating ‘The enthusiastic reader will observe that…’), highlights that the union (unsurprisingly) is determined to pull out all the stops to not only squash the whistleblower case, but make sure that damning evidence from the Royal Commission can’t be used against them in other forums.

We will follow these proceedings into the future and advise members as they progress.
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Sam McGregor

Policy & Industry Adviser

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