Case name
Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v Dig It Landscapes Pty Ltd ACN 010 813 957 & Ors
Known as
Dig It Landscapes
Commonwealth Courts Portal reference and link

BRG204/2016

Applicant

Australian Building and Construction Commissioner

Respondent(s) at time of filing

CFMEU, Dig It Landscapes, David Mercer, Kurt Pauls

Date filed
4 March 2016
State/Territory
QLD
Breach(es) found
Adverse action, Discrimination
Status
Finalised
Link to liability judgement

Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v Dig It Landscapes Pty Ltd & Ors [2017] FCCA 2128 (5 September 2017)

Summary of court decision

The ABCC* commenced proceedings in the Federal Circuit Court against landscaping firm, Dig-It Landscapes Pty Ltd and its manager for allegedly terminating a contract with a waterproofing company after the CFMEU said the company was not allowed to work on site. The CFMEU and one of its officials were also listed as respondents in the matter.

Dig It Landscapes, its project manager, along with the CFMEU and their site delegate were penalised $115,515 after terminating the contract of another company that did not have a CFMEU EBA.

In May 2014, a CFMEU official told workers of a waterproofing company they were not allowed to work on a Fortitude Valley site because their employer did not have a CFMEU EBA.

The waterproofing company’s contract was then terminated by Dig It Landscapes.

In the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane Judge Vasta said the decision by Dig It Landscapes to terminate the contract was because it “did not want to have trouble” with the CFMEU.

Judge Vasta said the waterproofing company had been unlawfully discriminated against because it did not have a CFMEU EBA. The company had a valid EBA and a right to work at the site.

The Judge said:

“It beggars belief that the CFMEU believe that they can act in a manner where they are the ones who dictate who can or cannot work on a construction site.”

Judge Vasta went on to say:

“This was a very clear and deliberate action to illustrate to [the waterproofing company] that it was the CFMEU who alone decided who worked on that particular site.”

“It seems that the CFMEU feel that they can usurp Parliament and that they can set the law in this country. There is no place for such an attitude in Australian society.”

The Judge noted the case “illustrates an inordinate amount of power” wielded by the CFMEU and that the case “paints a compelling picture of how things can go wrong in the industrial landscape of this country.”

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

Penalities

Penalties awarded against

Penalties awarded

CFMEU

$47,175

Dig It Landscapes

$40,800

Kurt Pauls

$15,300

David Mercer

$12,240

Total

$115,515

Total penalities

$115,515

Related content

Media release Brisbane firm penalised after terminating contract to avoid trouble with CFMEU