In his interim report into the banking Royal Commission, Commissioner Hayne pointed out that “Over the 10 years to 1 June 2018, ASIC’s infringement notices to the major banks have amounted to less than $1.3 million.”
Meanwhile, the other “tough cop on the beat”, the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), has imposed fines totalling over $15 million against the CFMEU since 2005, with around 80 officials still facing courts on some 44 matters.
In one case alone in September last year, the CFMEU were fined a record $2.4 million over an “unlawful blockade” at Lendlease’s Barangaroo site. This ruling is currently under appeal.
In June, the CFMEU and an official were fined $51,300 for abusing and threatening construction workers on the Gorgon LNG project in Western Australia. The ABCC took legal action against the union and official Brad Upton after a 2015 incident during which he abused workers for not being members of the union, calling them “f—–g dog c—s”.
“This is a f—–g union site, we have other union sites starting up next year and if you’re not in the union, you can f–k off too, you are not welcome.”
Federal Court of Australia Justice Michael Barker said the official’s behaviour and conduct at the meeting of employees on December 2015 was “appalling”.
“The language used was intended to intimidate employees into accepting that they must be
union members if they wanted work,” he said. “It is common, it seems, for some members of unions to believe that any manner of foul language or intimidatory conduct is par for the course at a union meeting.”
Yet the intimidation used by some Liberal Party bovver boys during the recent leadership spill, threatening pre-selections and refusing to leave colleagues’ offices unless they signed a petition calling for a spill, is apparently just the nature of politics.
When the mayor of Katherine went to see Greg Hunt regarding contamination from fire-fighting foam in her region, he launched an expletive-ridden attack on her.
“He relocated his chair, pointing towards me and said ‘you need to fucking get over it, you need to fucking make Senator Scullion your best friend’,” Ms Miller said.
Ms Miller told ABC radio the next two sentences also contained the F-word. “And then he sat back a little in his chair and said, ‘I’ve heard you’re feisty’,” she said.
When questioned by Labor, Hunt admitted he also had a “strong discussion” with the former secretary of his department, that had triggered a complaint to the secretary of the prime minister’s department.
Even the urbane Malcolm Turnbull is reported to have launched into then PM Tony Abbott on a flight home from The Australian newspaper’s 50th birthday party in 2014, calling Abbott a “disloyal c***”.
“It was Malcolm in full flight. Angry, bitter, (saying) you’re fucking hopeless, you’re a fucking c****, you should resign. He got quite close to his face,” said one source who witnessed the tirade.
Then there was the time when the hapless Peter Dutton mistakenly sent a text to Samantha Maiden describing her as “a mad fucking witch” for having written about the sexual harassment allegations against Jamie Briggs who had then circulated photographs of his accuser.
Bad language from politicians is “strong discussion”. But if a construction union official swears, they will find themselves in court facing hefty fines.
Bullying and intimidation are a normal part of the “robust” rough and tumble of politics, a profession not suited to “snowflakes”. But any insistence that construction workers show solidarity with union members is illegal thuggery.
Banks are forgiven for appalling behaviour which has destroyed people’s lives just by promising they won’t do it again. But a union official who entered a construction site with an out-of-date right of entry permit was dragged before the courts and fined $74,000.
In response to Scott Morrison’s threat to de-register the CFMEU because of a tweet by one individual (which was quickly taken down and apologised for), Dave Noonan pointed out the inconsistencies.
“It’s disappointing but not surprising that a broken and divided Government is resurrecting the CFMEU bogeyman in an attempt to frighten voters. It is in stark contrast to the green light Scott Morrison has given the banks, who we now know have criminally ripped off their own customers to the tune of $1 billion and counting.
Scott Morrison has nothing to say about the criminal behaviour of the banks. He has nothing to say about real problems like stagnant wages, sham contracting, or the death toll in the construction industry. And now he wants to leave construction workers with no representation.”
And they pretend we have an egalitarian society.