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Memo from Nigel Hadgkiss: “Heads I win, Tails you lose”

By Terence Mills

Remember Nigel Hadgkiss? He was the bloke that Michaelia Cash put in charge of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC). It was the ABCC legislation that acted as the catalyst for last year’s Turnbull initiated double-dissolution election.

Anyhow, it turned out that Nige’ – an ex copper – had been a bit naughty and he has admitted to recklessly misrepresenting union rights on Australian Building and Construction Commission posters and handbooks. He knowingly contravened the Fair Work Act by instructing staff to not publish legal changes to right-of-entry rules for unions. He made these admission as a result of legal action brought by the commission’s chief target, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union.

Hadgkiss resigned from his $426,000-a-year job after conceding that he recklessly and intentionally misrepresented union rights to employers while he headed up the Fair Work office over a period of two years.

He breached the Fair Work Act by publishing website material that misrepresented the rights of union officials during entry to premises to meet workers. He failed to correct the material despite concerns being raised by his staff.

Michaelia Cash has defended him (and herself) throughout until it got too hard to do so and he has now been fined $8,500 for breaching the Fair Work Act. Well, to say that he has been fined is probably stretching the truth as you have to look to see who will be paying the fine: taxpayers will be paying the fine, that’s you and me.

But, as Michaelia will tell you she has done everything in her power to avoid this situation, to save you and me the cost of a $8,500 fine. In fact, Michaelia has fronted Nigel’s legal costs to the tune of $418,000. Well, that’s not quite true either. Michaelia won’t be paying the $418,000 legal fees and neither will Nigel and there are no prizes for identifying who will be paying. Yes, it’s the man and woman you see daily in the mirror.

Now, I don’t really care about Nigel Hadgkiss, although he sounds like a thoroughly unpleasant fellow and I have to wonder how he reached such an elevated position within a government instrumentality: but then, he is an ex-copper and we have seen how this has evidently assisted Dutton in his dark and dismal political career. Perhaps a blind hatred of unions [and refugees] is a qualification for government appointments nowadays?

I don’t really care about Michaelia Cash who it seems is a pathological liar spending her time as a minister of the crown engaging in subterfuge and dishonest duplicity and whilst we know that she was behind the AWU raids and the associated media circus she has gone to ground and, interestingly, she has refused to answer any Senate questions as she says the matter of the AWU raid is the subject of a criminal enquiry and thus sub-judice. A criminal enquiry, eh? I wonder how long that will take and whether convictions will follow?

What really gets me is that it is the Australian taxpayer who picks up the tab every time : it is we who get to pay for these indiscretions and I’ve no doubt that Nigel will retire now with a generous taxpayer funded retirement package. There remains an important ethical point here, it’s not just politics as normal. Here we have admitted and intentional wrong doing in public office by Hadgkiss but the penalty is paid by the community against whom he has offended. Is that justice?

Labor has called for an independent inquiry and has taken aim at Employment Minister Michaelia Cash for putting Mr Hadgkiss in charge of the ABCC last year even though he was at that point already under a legal cloud. We’ll see how far that goes!


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  1. babyjewels10

    These things keep getting swept under the carpet. How? We must be idiots.

  2. Bruce Winchester

    We ARE idiots and they don’t even bother to sweep things under the carpet anymore. They just won’t acknowledge the rubbish building up in the room.

  3. DrakeN

    A media 80% – or more – controlled by Rupert Murdoch and a government controlled by the IPA.

  4. Kaye Lee

    One rule for them, another for the plebs……

    The Turnbull government will seek to change workplace laws to prevent the construction union from paying officials’ fines for unlawful industrial conduct in the wake of a ruling that courts have no power to ensure individual officials are held personally liable.

    A full bench of the Federal Court backed a Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union appeal on Wednesday, overruling orders that prohibited the union from paying a near maximum fine of $18,000 imposed on Victorian organiser Joseph Myles for threatening “war” against concreter Boral.

    The Australian Building and Construction Commission had argued the orders were needed so the penalties would have more “sting”.

  5. Freethinker

    No bbyjewels10 and Bruce Winchester, we are not but we are a minority.
    She will be voted again and again until she is booted to a nice and well paid job in the public or private sectors.
    No many will complain in the others side because there also are some individuals that are capable to look after their own interest very well.
    There are people like Andrew Wilkie that will rise his voice but will be cover up very quickly by some and ignore by others.
    Yes DrakeN and people like that, it has been like this for many years and they cannot see any reason to change.

  6. Matters Not

    So if a Union breaks the law, a real live person is to be held responsible – presumably for fines, damages and the like. Surely consistency demands therefore, CEOs, for example, be held personally accountable for breeches made by their corporations. So in the future Chief Executives are likely to be bankrupted and then jailed when fines are not paid?

    Perhaps Ministers should be accountable likewise? What about Judges found to be in error? Police ..

  7. Phil

    Yes, I too want to see Labor push this Cash matter hard and aggressively.

    What’s the chances that Cash was operating with full knowledge of what Hadgkiss was doing and that he merely took the fall for her just as it appears this other criminal staffer did more recently with the AFP union raids tipoff. Cash is a nasty piece of work – but then most of the Liberal party fits that descriptor.

  8. pierre wilkinson

    wouldn’t a federal ICAC be busy…

  9. Matters Not

    Corporations can’t be sent to jail. Yes, organisations can be penalised via fines and the like but physically doing time is an impossibility for such an entity. It’s only a real live person that hears the clink of the cell door.

    Fundamentally, we need to appreciate also that corporations don’t make decisions. No – ‘decisions’ are always traceable to individuals. In any hierarchy, it’s real live people who decide and because it’s a hierarchy (read bureaucracy) there’s both a chain of command AND also a chain of responsibility.

    However, in the real world, the higher you sit in the chain of command, the greater the likelihood your responsibility will be absorbed by the corporation. We need to think about that. The consequences might be profound. Why, we might even have CEOs going to jail and PMs facing charges of war crimes.

    But maybe not.

  10. Barry thompson.

    Can it be sub-judice if charges have not been laid ?
    Correct me if I am wrong, I have no legal training.

  11. Joe Roskell

    Barry, NO it cannot

  12. etnorb

    IT appears the ONLY time there is ever any complaints is when any one of the inept, lying, obscenely over-paid so-called “Liberal” (?) politicians when they continually throw ANY complaints back on the Labor mob! Even after years since Labor has been in power, it seems ALL problems to do with anything political it MUST be a Labor problem, simples!

  13. Patagonian

    Cash is an utter disgrace, but then so many of the Liberals that come from my own state are.

  14. helvityni

    Yes, Patagonian, looks likes rudeness rules; I’m convinced there a “finishing school” for young Liberals aspiring to get into politics ,where they learn to behave in that most distasteful manner…

    Watching TV ,my finger always sits on the off button: Michaelia, Breheni, Pyne, Dutton,and more…..

  15. Terry2

    Barry Thompson

    I think you are correct sub judice is normally understood to mean under judicial consideration and therefore prohibited from public discussion elsewhere.

    This was Michaelia’s excuse to shut down questioning of her acts but she did mention that the AFP were treating this as a criminal investigation which seems to be saying that she could be facing a criminal charge : how do you think that will go ?

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