Bruce Highway case reaffirms need to hold a valid federal right of entry permit

On 20 April 2018, the ABCC was granted a temporary injunction preventing seven CFMMEU officials from entering the Bruce Highway, Caloundra project site unless they complied with their Federal right of entry requirement. This included producing their Federal right of entry permit when requested to do so.

The seven named officials were Kurt Pauls, Beau Seiffertt, Te Aranui Albert, Blake Hynes, Luke Gibson, Matthew Parfitt and Royce Kupsch. All of the officials other than Mr Kurt Pauls held valid Federal right of entry permits at the relevant time..

The ABCC brought Federal court proceedings against the CFMMEU and the seven officials alleging they had unlawfully entered the Bruce Highway, Caloundra project site in early 2018, causing delays and prompting the attendance of Queensland Police.

The case concerned the operation of section 81(3) of the Queensland Work Health and Safety Act 2011, which permitted representatives to enter sites to attend discussions to resolve health and safety issues. This provision is part of the uniform Work Health and Safety laws that apply in all other States and Territories except Victoria and Western Australia.

The judgement reinforces a 2017 Full Federal Court ruling that union officials must hold a valid federal right of entry permit when entering a site under a State or Territory OHS law. The Fair Work Commission issues Federal right of entry permits if they are satisfied that the union official is a fit and proper person.

The Federal Court will list the matter for a penalty hearing at a later date and the respondents have filed a notice of appeal.