A Federal Court judge has suggested the construction union should stop paying its officials’ fines.
When individuals are found to have broken the law, alluding to the fact that such a practice undermines the primary purpose of imposing a penalty in the first place – i.e. deterrence.
“If the primary purpose of imposing a penalty is deterrence, there may be little deterrence if a penalty imposed upon a union official is simply reimbursed by his union,” he said.
The case involved a breach of entry laws by two CFMEU NSW officials at Sydney’s domestic airport in 2013, where Justice Flick found that the officials:
“…purported to exercise powers which they knew they did not possess. They behaved in a manner which was abusive and misleading. Their conduct can only be described as contemptuous of the limits to their power and the people on site with whom they were dealing…”.
Justice Flick’s suggestion regarding the payment of officials’ fines follows a suggestion last month by Federal Court judge John Logan that the union be deregistered, after he fined the CFMEU and its officials $545,000 for unlawful coercion at a Grocon site in Brisbane. He said:
“An industrial organisation, be it an employer organisation or an employee organisation, which persistently abuses the privilege by engaging in unlawful conduct cannot expect to remain registered”
The Royal Commission has already been called upon to consider a number of recommendations concerning rogue elements of the union movement, including increased fines set at a level that will act as a genuine deterrence, more rigorous ‘fit and proper person’ requirements on union officer holders, and potential deregistration.
Master Builders strongly supports measures to ensure that the rule of law applies in the building and construction industry.