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Waterfront fiasco could cost farmers $1billion in damages

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Ύ Μ Ε H O N . N E I L O ’ K E E F E m h r

F e d e r a l M e m b e r f or B u r k e

S h a d o w M i n i s t e r f o r P r i mar y I n d u s t r i e s


Waterfront fiasco could cost farmers Slbillion in damages

Australian farmers were warned today that they could find themselves entangled in a $1 billion damages claim stemming from the National Fanners Federation (NFF) involvement in the waterfront fiasco.

Federal Shadow Minister for Primary Industries. Neil O'Keefe, said that it is in the interest of farmers that the High Court orders the reinstatement of the dismissed waterside workers on Monday.

“It has become clear that the High Court is likely to agree with Justice North and the Federal Court judges that the wharfies have been unlawfully dismissed and the parties involved have a case to answer in that they participated in an unlawful conspiracy,” Mr O'Keefe said.

“The High Court now seems to be considering whether to order that the workers be reinstated or instead that they should pursue damages for lost wages stemming from their dismissal.”

But Mr O’Keefe points out that the assets have already been stripped and the money is not there to pay the damages. He adds that the Court would have no option but to follow the money trail back to the other parties who have been involved. Mr O’Keefe says this means the Government, P&C Stevedores and the financial institutions.

“Unless the NFF can prove that no money came from any of its sources and that none of the tactics involving P&C Stevedoring replacing sacked workers were discussed at NFF executive level, they could well finish up in the spotlight.

“If I was a member of the NFF, I would be hoping the High Court reinstates the wharfies.

“Any reasonable claim for damages for lost wages would cover at least a five year period. This would be over Sib for the 1400 dismissed wharfies.

“Chief Justice Brennan has already said ‘it could be wages for life* so this could even go to two or three billion dollars.

> "It is in everybody’s best interests that the wharfies are reinstated and that Chris Corrigan hands over to some new owners who can make the show work in the way that P&O and Sealand are able to.

”1 would be urging farmers everywhere to seek reassurance from the NFF that they can not be caught up in this money trail," said Mr O’Keefe.

Contact: Pat Giles 0418 509 649 May 1st 1998

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