On 2 September 2022, the Fair Work Commission refused the CFMMEU’s application to renew the federal entry permit of its Queensland official Dean Rielly. The Fair Work Commission found Mr Rielly was not a fit and proper person to hold a federal entry permit.
The ruling came after the ABCC Commissioner intervened in the proceeding, citing Mr Rielly’s previous contraventions in matters brought before the courts as evidence of his unsuitability to be entrusted with the powers of a federal entry permit holder.
In opposing the renewal of Mr Rielly’s entry permit, the ABCC Commissioner pointed to Mr Rielly’s prior contraventions of industrial laws in 2019 in the Coffs Harbour Hospital Case and the Pacific Highway Upgrade Case.
In the Coffs Harbour Hospital Case Mr Rielly was ordered to pay a penalty of $10,000 for contraventions of the Fair Work Act 2009. The CFMMEU was also ordered to pay a penalty of $80,000 for contravening the Act, partly as a result of Mr Rielly’s conduct.
In the Pacific Highway Upgrade Case Mr Rielly was penalised $8,820 and the CFMMEU $100,800, again partly as a result of Mr Rielly’s unlawful conduct in this matter.
In accepting the evidence presented, Fair Work Commission Deputy President Saunders said:
“Mr Rielly’s conduct in contravention of the Act in the Coffs Harbour Hospital Case and the Pacific Highway Upgrade Case is plainly relevant to my assessment of Mr Rielly’s fitness and propriety to hold a right of entry permit. Such conduct weighs against a conclusion that Mr Rielly is a fit and proper person to hold a right of entry permit because it reduces my confidence that Mr Rielly would, in the future, comply with his legislative obligations when exercising his right of entry powers as a permit holder under the Act.”
Deputy President Saunders went on to say:
“After taking into account and weighing each of the permit qualification matters set out in … the Act, I am not satisfied, on balance, that Mr Rielly is a fit and proper person to hold a right of entry permit. The matters which weigh in favour of a finding that Mr Rielly is a fit and proper person to hold a right of entry permit are outweighed by those that weigh against such a conclusion. On the material before the Commission, I do not have confidence that Mr Rielly will comply with his obligations as a right of entry permit holder on occasions when he is on premises owned or controlled by a third party and he is confronted by a difficult situation in which he perceives that one or more employees have been treated adversely or unfairly.
ABCC Commissioner Stephen McBurney said the right of entry powers under the Fair Work Act provide permit holders with special powers and responsibilities.
“The statutory scheme created by the Fair Work Act aims to ensure appropriate standards of conduct apply when permit holders exercise their statutory entry rights to enter building sites. Noting the Federal Government’s intention to abolish the ABCC, the Fair Work Commission will retain oversight of permit applications, suspensions and revocations.” Mr McBurney said.
A list of union officials who do not hold a valid federal entry permit, or have conditions imposed on their federal entry permit, can be found on the ABCC’s website.
In addition to successful prosecutions in the Coffs Harbour Hospital Case and Pacific Highway Upgrade cases, the ABCC has started court action against the CFMMEU, Mr Rielly and a second Queensland union official alleging they contravened right of entry requirements and refused to comply with lawful safety directions at the M1 Motorway project in April 2021.