Friday, November 27, 2015

Both sides of an allegedly corrupt deal to provide a union boss with a free work on his house have accused the trade union royal commission of bias.
Counsel assisting the inquiry this month called for a recommendation of criminal charges against former Builders Labourers Federation Queensland secretary Dave Hanna and two former Mirvac executives under state laws outlawing secret commissions.

Such offences carry a jail term of up to seven years.

The royal commission heard Mr Hanna had received $150,000 of free work on his new luxury home in Cornubia, south of Brisbane, that was ultimately paid for by Mirvac.

It was alleged a secret deal had been struck between the executives and Mr Hanna to ensure Mirvac building sites were not disrupted by union activity.

The inquiry published submissions on behalf of Mr Hanna and former Mirvac executive Adam Moore today.

Police searched the Brisbane offices of the CFMEU last week, seizing documents relating to the trade unions royal commission.

The CFMEU challenged the search warrant in the Federal Court and today the court extended a stay on the use of the evidence pending further legal argument.
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"It is no part of the role of counsel assisting to pursue adverse findings against Mr Hanna. And yet that is the impression one is left with after reading the submissions," lawyers for Mr Hanna wrote.

They argue there is an "apprehension of bias" on the part of counsel assisting the inquiry.

Lawyers for Mr Moore, a senior Mirvac executive alleged to have approved the company's involvement, have also accused the inquiry of having "an agenda".

The inquiry heard in September that Mr Moore had initiated and approved an arrangement regarding Mr Hanna's house under which the costs were secretly billed to a shopping centre Mirvac was building at Springfield, 30 kilometres away.

In a written submission, the lawyers suggest it was likely a more junior Mirvac employee, Mathew McAllum, "undertook an enterprise entirely of his own accord".

"Counsel assisting the Commission has preferred the evidence of Mr McAllum to that of Mr Moore, despite the fact that no contemporaneous documentary evidence truly supports Counsel Assisting's case theory," the lawyers wrote.

"This reveals an agenda by Counsel Assisting which goes beyond that which both the Commission and the public at large should reasonably expect."

Counsel assisting the commission this month called on the inquiry to recommend criminal charges against Mr Hanna, Mr Moore and Mr McAllum.

A submission published today from Mirvac, one of Australia's largest development and property companies, said it had known nothing about the alleged arrangement.

But it also cast doubt on the idea that there was any significant industrial unrest that might have prompted such a deal.

"The notion that Queensland was in a state of widespread industrial action is incorrect as both the broader construction industry in Queensland and the construction business of Mirvac in Queensland were relatively inactive during the relevant period," lawyers for the company wrote.

'High likelihood' union boss knew commission was seeking documents

Separately, counsel assisting the inquiry has alleged a CFMEU boss accused of destroying documents required by the commission did so in the knowledge "there was a very high likelihood" a demand for documents was imminent.

In a supplementary submission published today, the barristers pointed to new evidence from Bradley O'Carroll, the head of the plumbers' union, the CEPU, in Queensland.

Mr O'Carroll provided the inquiry with an affidavit last month stating that he had met CFMEU Queensland secretary Michael Ravbar in Brisbane on April 1, 2014 and told him his union had received a "notice to produce" documents to the royal commission.

Mr O'Carroll also said he had emailed a copy of the notice to Mr Ravbar.

The commission issued a similar notice to the CFMEU's national headquarters later the same day.

Several CFMEU witnesses testified last month that tonnes of paperwork was removed from the union's Brisbane offices that day and later destroyed, with activity carrying on until late in the evening.

A submission to the inquiry on behalf of the CFMEU and Mr Ravbar on October 29 claimed that Mr Ravbar would have needed "clairvoyant-like powers" to know a notice to produce was coming.

Mr Hanna, who was president of the CFMEU at the time, told the inquiry in September that Mr Ravbar had ordered the documents be destroyed. The inquiry also heard Mr Ravbar had asked staff not to disturb him.

Counsel assisting wrote in their submission published today: "Bradley O'Carroll's evidence ... assists in explaining why Michael Ravbar would have told David Hanna that he expected to receive a notice that day and why he would have instructed staff not to pass calls through to him or open certain emails ... it can be inferred that Michael Ravbar knew there was a very high likelihood that the CFMEU would be receiving a notice to produce imminently."

The barristers have previously called for a recommendation for criminal charges against Mr Ravbar and Mr Hanna over the document destruction.

The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, set up by the Abbott government and chaired by former High Court justice Dyson Heydon, is due to report its findings and recommendations by the end of the year.


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