The High Court has refused the CFMMEU special leave to appeal against a Full Federal Court decision that imposed maximum penalties of $306,000 on the union for the unlawful conduct of its former Queensland President Dave Hanna.
The High Court ordered that the CFMMEU pay the ABCC’s legal costs of defending the special leave application.
In 2017, six maximum penalties were imposed on the union in the Broadway on Anne case because of Mr Hanna’s contraventions of right of entry laws at the Fortitude Valley construction site.
At the time of the incident in February 2015, Mr Hanna refused to leave the site, squirted water in the face of the site manager and at his mobile phone and stated: “Take that phone away or I’ll F***ing bury it down your throat…”
The ABCC was successful in the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane in October 2017. The ABCC successfully defended a union appeal on penalty in the Full Federal Court in August 2018. The High Court yesterday refused the union leave to hear a further appeal, bringing this case to a conclusion.
In imposing the original penalty on the CFMMEU in October 2017, Federal Circuit Court Judge Vasta described the union as “the most recidivist corporate offender in Australian history”.
Judge Vasta’s comments were reiterated in the subsequent Full Federal Court judgment where Justice Tracey said:
… the CFMEU has determined that its officials will not comply with the requirements of the FW Act with which it disagrees.
The union simply regards itself as free to disobey the law.
Justice Logan in the Full Federal Court judgment likened the CFMMEU’s unlawful behaviour to that of the deregistered BLF:
The present case … provoke, strongly, the thought that there is a persistence within the CFMEU of the former Australian Building Construction Employees’ and Builders Labourers’ Federation (the BLF).
Justice Logan went on to say:
… an organisation which manifests an inability by its internal governance to rein in aberrant behaviour cannot expect to remain registered in its existing form.
ABC Commissioner Stephen McBurney said the High Court’s refusal to grant special leave vindicates the position of the ABCC. “I will continue to seek the imposition of maximum penalties in appropriate cases to deter repeat offending by the CFMMEU and others.”