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Wednesday, 13 September 2017
Page: 7140

Building and Construction Industry


Senator PATERSON (Victoria) (14:06): My question is for the Minister for Employment, Senator Cash. Is the minister aware of any recent court decisions relating to unlawful conduct in the building and construction industry?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (14:06): Unfortunately, yes, I am. I can inform the Senate that the Federal Court has today imposed fines on the CFMEU and 10 of its officials, including the notorious Luke Collier, Darren Greenfield and Brian Parker, in excess of $2.4 million for repeated and egregious breaches of workplace laws on the Barangaroo site in Sydney.

The comments made by Justice Flick in his decision are damning and include the following:

… 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.

And said that the CFMEU is to be regarded as a 'recidivist offender'. He continues:

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.

The conduct of its officers and employees has consistently shown a total contempt for the rights of occupiers and a total contempt for the constraints imposed by the law.

It goes on and on for pages and pages:

…the conduct for which the CFMEU assumes liability—

which is now approximately $2.4 million—

in the present proceeding shows a further and serious contempt for the law.

And what do we have from those on the other side, colleagues? Laughter. Absolute laughter. This is the most militant union in the country, which now has tens of millions of dollars in fines against it, and those on the other side can do nothing more than laugh.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Paterson, a supplementary question.



Senator PATERSON (Victoria) (14:08): Can the minister provide further details of any of the individuals involved in today's court judgement?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (14:08): Yes, I can. One of the CFMEU officials who was fined $40,400 for his conduct was, of course, Mr Luke Collier. Mr Luke Collier, it will come as no surprise to this chamber, a CFMEU official, is a career criminal who has broken the law on multiple occasions. He has served jail time for assault. He has engaged in violence against women, including assaulting his former girlfriend. He has used some of the most foul and abusive language against female inspectors, including, 'You effing dog', 'You effing grub', 'You're lower than a paedophile, you effing grub' and 'You effing slut'.' And guess what? Those on the other side—and Senator Doug Cameron, mate, you in particular—stand up and defend Mr Collier. They defend this disgusting behaviour. Why? Because he's a mate, and that's the only reason they're in this place.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Paterson, a final supplementary question?



Senator PATERSON (Victoria) (14:09): Were the actions of any other individuals discussed in today's judgement?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (14:09): They were—but normally Senator Cameron jumps up at this point and says, 'I have never defended Luke Collier.' So, for the benefit of the Senate, go to Senate estimates of 2014. Senator Cameron asked 61 questions defending Luke Collier for losing his right of entry permit. That's what those on the other side do. They stand up and they defend criminals—why? Because criminals put them in this place. They take tens of millions of dollars, the Australian Labor Party, from the most militant union in this country. So instead of standing up and saying, 'In relation to the $2.4 million fines today, and in particular the individual fines against 10 CFMEU officials,' have the guts to stand up and demand their resignations. Because, until you do, you are voiceless in this chamber.

The PRESIDENT: Thank you, Minister. Senator Wong?

Senator Wong: I wonder if I could ask you to review the Hansard after question time today. You have previously made a ruling in respect of four-letter words and abusive words being used in the context of so called quotations—

Senator Cash: Even when quoting from a court ruling—

Senator Wong: Excuse me.

The PRESIDENT: Order, Senator Cash.

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! I will determine whether Senator Wong has the right to be heard, and she does have the right to be heard.

Senator Wong: Thank you, Mr President. You have previously made rulings in relation to this minister using quotations to get around the issue of four-letter words and abuse being put on to Hansard. I'd ask that you review the Hansard at a point subsequent to question time and consider whether your ruling has been infringed.

The PRESIDENT: Thank you, Senator Wong. I will undertake to review the Hansard.