The Minister for Jobs and Innovation, Michaelia Cash, has been issued a subpoena by the Federal Court, requiring her to give evidence in the Australian Workers Union (AWU) raids case.
Court documents show the court is ordering Senator Cash to appear in Melbourne in August, after the union asked for orders to be made requiring the Minister to give evidence.
The subpoena means that by 20 June the jobs and innovation minister will have to produce documents about the raid, including any communications with her staff, and must appear at a federal court hearing on 1 August.
The AWU wants the court to throw out an investigation by the Registered Organisations Commission (ROC) into donations by the union to activist group GetUp.
Justice Anthony North said the documents might help the AWU to establish whether the investigation was initiated for an “improper purpose” but the AFP had claimed public interest immunity on the basis that release of the documents would prejudice its investigation, a claim North said was made out.
A case management hearing is due on 8 June, which may provide further details about whether the AFP maintain objections to release of the material and why subpoenas have been reissued that had previously been suspended.
There is nothing to suggest Senator Cash would not comply with the order, or that she was not aware of the possibility she would be called on to give evidence.
The AWU national secretary, Daniel Walton, said the union had “long believed last year’s raid – and the investigation itself – to be unlawful”.
“We think it’s vital for the court is assisted by the evidence of witnesses who we believe are relevant to the issues in the case,” he said. “That is why we sought subpoenas. If we are to understand exactly what happened then we believe the testimony of these individuals is critical.”
Senator Cash has called a press conference for 1pm today.