Category: News

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ex-ABCC chief hits taxpayers with $400,000 legal bill

Aussie taxpayers will soon face a bill of up to $400,000 for the legal bill of former ABCC chief Nigel Hadgkiss.

Judge Berna Collier ordered Mr Hadgkiss pay $8500, to the CFMEU for contravening the Fair Work Act

Unions attacked the $8500 penalty as “completely inade­quate”. Though supporters of Mr Hadgkiss said they were “furious” at the decision and would not rule out an appeal.

ACTU president Ged Kearney said Mr Hadgkiss had been Senator Cash’s “hand-picked attack dog” and the public funding of his legal bill was a “tremendous waste of taxpayers’ money”.

She called on Senator Cash to resign, saying: “With such utter arrogance from the minister, ­people have a right to be furious and to question her competence.’’

Senator Cash said the decision by Mr Hadgkiss to resign “stands in stark contrast to the many CFMEU officials who remain despite numerous court findings against them’’.

Mr Hadgkiss resigned this month after admitting that in ­December 2013 he directed that looming changes to right-of-entry laws, which were beneficial to unions and workers, not be published by the FWBC.

In her judgment, Justice Collier said Mr Hadgkiss’ conduct was serious and he “admitted to contravening a law he was required to police”.

Justice Collier found Mr Hadgkiss exhibited “a degree of carelessness and, indeed, somewhat arrogant ignorance, in respect of the truth of information. His careless conduct resulted in incorrect information remaining on the FWBC website for several years, in apparent disregard of the reputational risk to the FWBC.”

She said Mr Hadgkiss had not intended to contravene the Fair Work Act. “I note the contrition expressed by the director, his remorse for his actions, the fact that he has no record of previous contravention of the FW Act, and the fact that he has paid a high personal price in the loss of his position as a result of his contra­vention,’’ she found.

The national secretary of the CFMEU’s construction division, Dave Noonan, said taxpayers should not have to pay Mr Hadgkiss’s legal bill. He said Mr Hadgkiss was “hyper-partisan” and had increased the cost to the public by unnecessarily prolonging legal proceedings.

While Mr Hadgkiss was ordered to pay the $8500 to the CFMEU, Mr Noonan said “we don’t really want Nigel Hadgkiss’s money”. The union intended to donate it to a refuge for women fleeing domestic violence, he said.

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ACTU: Time to change the rules

The ACTU launched their “Change The Rules” campaign in Perth last night.

“Change The Rules” seeks to push for pro-worker changes to the Fair Work Act.

ACTU secretary Sally McManus said “The pendulum had swung too far toward big business and Australia needs a pay rise”

Ms McManus said workers across Western Australia have had their pay and conditions stripped by laws that allow companies to terminate enterprise agreements, keep wages low, cut penalty rates, and support mass casualisation and wage theft.

The ACTU will use the responses from the national survey of workers to identify the union movement’s priorities for change.

Ms McManus has previously said her chief priorities were to grow the union movement and strengthen the rights of workers. She has said she would lead a union campaign for major changes to the Fair Work Act and put “demands” on the political parties in the lead up to the next federal election.

As well as reduce the bargaining power of employers, unions want to ease legal restrictions on strikes and limit the use of casuals and labour hire.