10.03AM and Counsel Assisting and his team are yet to appear in the Chamber
10.04AM - Mr Stoljar SC arrives
Mr Taylor appears for the ETU NSW Branch, instructed by Mr Pasfield of Slater and Gordon, the same team appears for Mr Butler and more than 20 of his ETU officials. The barrister was at pains to point out that the ETU is a union for the purposes of the NSW Industrial Relations legislation, he did not mention any federal incorporation.
Mr Borenstein appears for the Victorian Branch of the ETU
Another barrister appears for Bernard Riordan
Another barrister appears for the CEPU
At 10.08AM Mr Stoljar SC, Counsel Assisting the Commission commenced his opening address.
He said today's hearing is about the ETU NSW Branch was the focus of the hearing, in particular the conduct of senior union officials involving themselves in political events to the detriment of their union members.
Secondly unions are subject to considerable regulation - among those regulations and legislation are rules prohibiting union officials from involving themselves in conflicts of interest.
Thirdly the commission will look at some union officials taking actions to entrench their positions - including in particular taking legal proceedings against competitors.
Fourthly the Commission will hear about financial transactions, particularly in cash.
SUMMARY OF RELEVANT FACTS
Late 2010 - Bernaard Riordan was NSW Secretary of the NSW Labor Party and Secretary of the ETU.
MR Riordan and others were directors on several boards and they kept the remuneration for those directorships personally.
In 2011 NSW State elections were due. The NSW Labor Party canvassed various unions for "donations" and other fundings.
Mr Stoljar states that several ETU officials from the NSW and Victorian Branches met to canvass whether the various branches would support Dean Mighells in running for the national leadership position. It was a torrid meeting - Mr Riordan and others stated that they would not support Mr Mighell, Mr Mighell is said to have responded with a threat of "open warfare" against the other branches leadership.
The ETU is said to have loaned $3M to the Labor Party. Sam Dastyari is said to have negotiated the loan with Mr Riordan.
On 11 July 2011, Dean Mighell commenced proceedings against Mr Riordan and 2 others seeking recovery of $3,395,097 from those 3 officials for directors fees.
These should be very painful hearings for Mr Commissioner Riordan.
ON 31 December 2011 the first instalment from the ALP was due, the ALP did not make the payment, the ETU did not seek repayment.
The ALP continued to have troubles meeting its repayments to the ALP. Bernie Riordan was made a Commissioner of Fair Work Australia during this time as the ALP was seeking a variation of its repayment schedule of the loan to the ETU.
As we reported earlier, there was a second round of proceedings brought in the Federal Court.
The hearings will look at the Labor Party Loan - as well as the question of whether or not Bernie Riordan and others actually owe the ETU money as a result of receiving their directors fees.
The CEPU/ETU members paid for the legal proceedings to recover the money - why were ETU members put to that expense if Riordan and others did not owe the money?
The Commission will also look at a considerable sum of cash money kept at the ETU's office.
AT 10.28 Mr Stoljar completed his opening address.
The first witness is Mr Sinclair.