The Fair Work Commission has suspended CFMMEU organiser Justin Brendon Lee Hobson’s federal entry permit for three months and has banned issuing him a further entry permit for the same period of time. The suspension and ban are effective from 16 May 2022.

The Fair Work Commission made its determination following the Federal Court on 30 November 2021 finding Mr Hobson contravened s500 of the Fair Work Act 2009 in October 2018 during construction of the San Clemente High School in Newcastle and at the Kooragang Coal Terminal.

On both occasions Mr Hobson was involved with CFMMEU organiser Brendan Holl in hindering and obstructing Wheeler Cranes from carrying out construction work. The officials’ actions were part of a CFMMEU campaign to coerce Wheeler Cranes to sign up to the union’s enterprise agreement.

The Federal Court imposed $554,600 in total penalties against the CFMMEU and its officials, with Mr Hobson ordered to pay a civil penalty of $6,000 for each of his contraventions of the Fair Work Act – a total of $12,000.

Following the conclusion of the Federal Court’s civil penalty process in that matter, the Fair Work Commission considered Mr Hobson’s entitlement to hold a right of entry permit. 

ABCC Commissioner Stephen McBurney intervened in the Fair Work Commission’s proceedings submitting that Mr Hobson’s federal right of entry permit should be suspended for three months.

Fair Work Commission Deputy President Gostencnik accepted the Commissioner’s submission that a three-month suspension of Mr Hobson’s permit was appropriate. There was considerable discussion of the issues of contrition and remorse.

Deputy President Gostencnik observed:

Here there is an expression of regret or remorse by Mr Hobson, underpinned by targeted training and a commitment not to contravene again. But, the expression of remorse or regret came very late in the piece. In The Wheeler Cranes Case there was no evidence of any contrition or regret offered. ... It is evident that Mr Hobson’s statement was filed in response to criticisms in the Commissioner’s written submissions about the absence of any evidence from Mr Hobson. Whilst a statement of regret if genuinely made can be powerful, in the instant case, I am not persuaded to give the expression of regret made by Mr Hobson any significant weight because it was not given much earlier in time. … It seems to me that a person truly regretful for conduct would likely say so much earlier than the case in point.

At the end of the suspension period the permit will be returned to Mr Hobson on application by him or the CFMMEU.

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.

Media Release
25 May 2022