On 13 September, the Federal Court ordered the CFMEU National branch, CFMEU NSW Branch and multiple union CFMEU officials to pay penalties in excess of $2.4 million. The penalties arose from incidents that took place in the Barangaroo South project in 2014.
In finding that maximum penalties should be imposed on the CFMEU, the Justice Flick noted:
“The CFMEU has long demonstrated by its conduct that it pays but little regard to compliance with the law and indeed has repeatedly sought to place itself above the law. The CFMEU is to be regarded as a recidivist offender. It is difficult, if not impossible, to envisage any worse conduct than that pursued by the CFMEU. The CFMEU assumes a prominent role in the industrial affairs of this country and has consistently exhibited a contempt for compliance with the law. The conduct of its officers and employees has consistently shown a total contempt for the rights of occupiers and a total contempt for the constraints imposed by the law. It is difficult to perceive how such conduct can be regarded as in the best interests of the bulk of its members and the workers it supposedly represents. Such conduct may promote the CFMEU as a militant union.”
Master Builders supports the findings of the Federal Court in this matter, which serve as a significant step towards restoring the rule of law in the construction industry by ensuring penalties are set a level more likely to deter those who have hitherto chosen to hold themselves above the law.