The ABCC has commenced action in the Federal Circuit and Family Court against the CFMMEU, its Queensland State Secretary Michael Ravbar and official Andrew Blakeley, alleging right of entry contraventions.
The court action stems from two unauthorised entries that disrupted work on two separate sites forming part of Brisbane’s Cross River Rail project.
The Cross River Rail is a new $6.88 billion train line from Dutton Park to Bowen Hills, stretching 10.2 kilometres and including 5.9 kilometres of twin tunnels under the Brisbane River and CBD.
This is the third case the ABCC has brought before the courts in relation to contraventions occurring across the Cross River Rail project. The two earlier matters already before the courts occurred at Boggo Road and Albert Street.
In this matter the ABCC is alleging Mr Blakeley used his hip and shoulder to push a site supervisor out of the way so a vehicle carrying a BBQ could enter the site. Mr Blakeley and Mr Ravbar also allegedly failed to comply with the site’s COVID-19 and entry requirements.
In its statement of claim, the ABCC is alleging:
- On 19 August 2021, a vehicle with a trailer from a superannuation fund, arrived at the entrance to the Woolloongabba Station construction site. The occupant of the vehicle said they were there for a BBQ. Mr Ravbar and Mr Blakeley arrived at the site shortly afterwards.
- As the superannuation fund vehicle was not authorised to enter the site, a site supervisor stood between the vehicle and the boom gates to block the vehicle from entering. Mr Blakeley physically pushed the site supervisor out of the way with his hip and shoulder and directed the vehicle to drive onto the site through a gap in the boom gates.
- Mr Blakeley continued directing the vehicle down the site haul road and Mr Ravbar followed on foot.
- Mr Ravbar and Mr Blakeley failed to provide prior notice of entry, comply with Queensland government COVID-19 check-in requirements, or complete a visitor induction and sign in process.
- Mr Blakeley and Mr Ravbar supervised the occupants of the vehicle as they set up a BBQ on site. The site occupier’s senior industrial relations advisor said to Mr Blakeley words to the effect that his access to the site was ‘unauthorised’ and ‘you need to leave’. Mr Blakeley did not respond.
- Following this, about 50 workers who had attended the project to perform building work that day gathered around the BBQ, where Mr Ravbar, Mr Blakeley and the superannuation fund representatives addressed them.
- The conduct of Mr Ravbar and Mr Blakeley delayed building work by at least one hour and prevented the completion of building work in the morning as planned.
- On 24 August 2021, Mr Ravbar, Mr Blakeley, and the same vehicle entered the Roma Street Station construction site without authorisation from the occupier and again set up a BBQ, interrupting building work on site.
- Mr Ravbar and Mr Blakeley again failed to provide prior notice of entry, comply with Queensland government COVID-19 check-in requirements, or complete a visitor induction and sign in process.
- At no time had the site occupier organised, or authorised, a BBQ to take place. The Advisor told the officials about five times that they were unauthorised to be on site and that they should leave.
- About 25 workers had crowded around the BBQ area. Mr Ravbar, Mr Blakeley and the superannuation fund representatives addressed the workers and then stood around talking and eating with the workers.
- The conduct of Mr Ravbar and Mr Blakeley delayed building work for the day and did not allow scheduled work to be completed in the morning as planned.
The ABCC is seeking a personal payment order against both officials, which would require Court imposed penalties to be paid personally by Mr Ravbar and Mr Blakeley and not paid or reimbursed directly or indirectly by the CFMMEU or through crowd funding.
The maximum penalty for each contravention of the Fair Work Act 2009 is $66,600 for a body corporate and $13,320 for an individual.
Mr Ravbar no longer holds a Federal Right of Entry Permit
Mr Ravbar filed an application with the Fair Work Commission to renew his federal right of entry permit on 23 March 2021. The Australian Building and Construction Commissioner Stephen McBurney intervened in the proceeding arguing Mr Ravbar was not a fit and proper person to hold a permit.
In September 2021, Mr Ravbar abandoned his application to renew his right of entry permit. Mr Ravbar is no longer authorised to exercise entry rights in accordance with the Fair Work Act 2009.