Case name
Australian Building And Construction Commissioner v Construction, Forestry, Mining & Energy Union & Ors
Known as
Perth Children’s Hospital
Commonwealth Courts Portal reference and link


Australian Building and Construction Commissioner
  • CFMEU, Joseph McDonald, Michael Buchan
Date filed
Breach(es) found
Date finalised
Link to liability and penalty judgment

Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (Perth Childrens’ Hospital Contraventions Case) [2017] FCA 491

Summary of court decision

Declarations of admitted contraventions made by court on 30 November 2015. A penalty hearing took place on 21 October 2016. On 11 May 2017 the Federal Court handed down penalties totalling $55,500.

John Holland was the head contractor of the New Children’s Hospital in Perth. The ABCC* started proceedings in the Federal Court against the CFMEU and its officials Joe McDonald and Mick Buchan for allegedly organising a protest in a bid to coerce John Holland to meet its pay demands.

It was alleged that about 200 workers were prevented or discouraged from entering the site on 3 May 2013, where about 400 people were protesting. Many of the protestors were wearing clothing with CFMEU and Maritime Union of Australia logos.

The ABCC alleged Buchan instructed protestors to let John Holland’s Employee Relations Manager onto site but she could not enter because the locks on the main entrance had been glued shut. The ABCC also alleged that CFMEU organiser Tawa Harris addressed workers who approached the main entrance with a loudhailer and said things such as “F*** off,” “You’re scabs,” and “You’re not entering site.”

It was alleged McDonald and CFMEU organiser Peter Joshua stood together at the main entrance gate to the site, with about 10 other protestors at the gate and approximately 25 protestors directly opposite at a tent the CFMEU erected. The CFMEU referred to the tent as “the Equal Pay Embassy.” It was also alleged the CFMEU paid $1155 for a plane to fly over the site carrying a large banner which read “EBA means equal pay – Shame John Holland Shame.”

The unions’ alleged pay demands would have required John Holland to only use subcontractors that had an enterprise agreement acceptable to the CFMEU, or which paid at least equivalent wages and conditions as those applying to John Holland’s own employees at the project.

*This matter was originally filed by Fair Work Building and Construction (FWBC). On 2 December 2016, FWBC became the ABCC.


Penalties awarded against

Penalties awarded



Joseph McDonald


Michael Buchan




Total Penalties


Historical content

11 May 2017 - Court penalises CFMEU leaders in $277,000 Perth Children’s Hospital decision