02 Oct 2017

The Government must provide answers after a decision handed down today in the Federal Court of Australia shows the extreme seriousness of the unlawful conduct of the Government’s disgraced former Commissioner of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).
In her decision (Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union v Director of the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate [2017] FCA 1166), Justice Collier imposed a penalty of $8,500 on Mr Hadgkiss for his breach of section 503 of the Fair Work Act. The maximum penalty permitted to be imposed by the Court was $10,200.
Mr Hadgkiss' high priced legal team had submitted to the Court that no financial penalty should be imposed. The fact that the judge imposed a penalty at the higher end of the permitted scale shows just how serious Mr Hadgkiss’ unlawful conduct was. Reasons provided by the Court in imposing the penalty include:
· Mr Hagdkiss was the industry regulator, whose role it was to ensure accurate information to industry participants and the general public;
· There was no ambiguity concerning the status of the relevant law – rather by acting in the manner he did Mr Hadgkiss appeared to take a “calculated risk”;
· Mr Hadkgkiss’ actions resulted in a misrepresentation concerning the state of the law being perpetuated by the regulator over several years.
Minister Cash and the Prime Minister have held a number of positions regarding what they knew of Mr Hadgkiss’ unlawful conduct and when. This much is clear: they don’t ever appear to have appreciated the seriousness of his unlawful behaviour.
In the very week that Mr Hadgkiss’ hand-picked successor commenced as the Acting Commissioner of the ABCC, and after weeks of refusing to come clean on whether she informed Cabinet of serious allegations against Mr Hadgkiss which have since been proven to be true, Minister Cash must accept the Federal Court’s position that this unlawful behaviour is indeed extremely serious, and immediately provide answers to the Australian public.


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