SERIOUS QUESTIONS TO BE ASKED OF HADGKISS’ HAND-PICKED SUCCESSOR
28 Sep 2017
Given Minister Cash's blatant failure to disclose whether she informed Cabinet of the appointment of Nigel Hadgkiss to the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), nor – if she did not - why she is not in breach of her ministerial responsibilities, she must now explain why she has endorsed Mr Hadgkiss' hand-picked successor as Acting Commissioner.
Ms Cato was Mr Hadgkiss’ Deputy Commissioner and, before that, held senior positions at the ABCC and predecessor bodies. She was a senior member of Mr Hadgkiss’ leadership group and described by him as a loyal supporter. Mr Hadgkiss has said he is “absolutely delighted” with the Government’s appointment and he hopes the role becomes permanent. .
As Mr Hadgkiss’ ally and confidante for close to a decade, and given Mr Hadgkiss’ unqualified endorsement of her, Ms Cato must explain the level of her complicity in Mr Hadgkiss’ conduct that he admitted was in breach of section 503 of the Fair Work Act.
Given it is evident that ABCC employees lower down the chain knew of Mr Hadgkiss’ unlawful conduct, it is inconceivable for Ms Cato not to have known of his contempt for the law. How could she not have been or not be seen to have been complicit?
In light of her long involvement with the ABCC and its predecessors, Ms Cato must answer the following questions:
When did Mr Hadgkiss’ unlawful conduct come to her attention?
If she wasn’t aware of his unlawful conduct, how can that be the case given that people in positions below her knew?
If Ms Cato knew, did she support this unlawful conduct?
Did Ms Cato stand up to the unlawful behaviour and seek to have Mr Hagkiss desist in such conduct?
Did Ms Cato raise this unlawful conduct with the Minister, the Australian Public Service Commissioner or anyone else? If not, why not?
Over the past three years, the conduct of Mr Hadgkiss has been called into question time and time again and, as one of his senior and loyal supporters, Ms Cato must explain whether she supported Mr Hadgkiss’ conduct or whether she stood up to it.
Minister Cash must immediately explain her role in the appointment of the disgraced Mr Hadgkiss and why she will not disclose whether she informed Cabinet of his unlawful conduct. She must also explain how the Government will ensure an open and transparent process for the future appointment of a permanent Commissioner.