Case name
Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union & Ors
Known as
Carrara Stadium
Commonwealth Courts Portal reference and link

QUD389/2016

Applicant

Australian Building and Construction Commissioner

Respondent(s) at time of filing

CFMEU, Shaun Desmond, Andrew Watson

Date filed
1 June 2016
State/Territory
QLD
Breach(es) found
Coercion
Status
Finalised
Link to liability judgement

Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union [2017] FCA 157

Link to penalty judgement

Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union [2017] FCA 1269

Summary of court decision

The Federal Court imposed penalties totalling $64,000 against the CFMEU and its officials, Shaun Desmond and Andrew Watson, after they repeatedly stopped work on the $126 million Carrara Sports and Recreation project on the Gold Coast in Queensland.

The Court found the union had imposed twice-daily, two-hour union meetings over 17 working days in May and June 2016 in a bid to coerce the head contractor to enter an enterprise agreement with the CFMEU.

Justice Reeves described the action as “deliberate” and “repeated” and had:

“… continued after its immediate unlawful effect was achieved, namely, the withdrawal of the structural subcontractors' workers from the Carrara project site.”

The dispute was brought to a halt after the ABCC sought an injunction on 3 June 2016 to prevent further stop-work meetings occurring on the site. The Court accepted ABCC’s submission that the meetings were illegitimate and ordered the CFMEU not organise further meetings until 15 June 2016. From 16 June 2016, the CFMEU could organise and hold one meeting per week.

In imposing the maximum penalty against the CFMEU, Justice Reeves noted the CFMEU’s conduct resulted in “significant damage” to the head contractor.

Justice Reeves cited the CFMEU’s 23 prior coercion contraventions since 2010, including 11 contraventions since 2013. He described the union’s history of contraventions as a “notorious fact”, concluding that the CFMEU’s “history of contraventions”:

“… requires a penalty that forces it to stop using such coercive conduct as a business model and the resulting penalty as a cost of doing business.”

Penalities

Penalties awarded against

Penalties awarded

CFMEU

$54,000

Shaun Desmond

$5,000

Andrew Watson

$5,000

Total

$64,000

Total penalities

$64,000

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