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May 2015

Next step in the Kathy Jackson/HSU Federal Court case this week

This Friday Justice Tracey will make directions in the case against Kathy Jackson - who knows what's in store but worth putting on the calendar.

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I don't know if there's been any move by Jackson's legal team to have the proceedings using the Federal Court's Rule to show cause - Federal Court of Australia provisions - but if so we may get some insight this Friday.   Otherwise the matter is planned to go to a full hearing commencing 29 June.

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Trade Union Royal Commission on the Craig Thomson, Michael Williamson and Kathy Jackson matters

On 23 April this year Commissioner Heydon opened the Commission's 2015 proceedings, including this comment about his plans:

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The Commission has shown a much greater interest in Labor Party/Trade Union links this year.   In the matters relating to Williamson, Thomson and Kathy Jackson those links are fundamental elements of the story, a "story" that turns on the events of 24 August, 2011, the day Kathy Jackson became persona non grata with the Labor Party and union movement.

On 25 August 2011 I broadcast on this editorial on 2UE 



Part two here includes comments from then PM Gillard 

On the morning of 24 August 2011 the Sydney Morning Herald published this story written by the well connected (with the Labor Party) Philip Coorey.   Here's an important excerpt, recall this was published in the paper on the morning of the planned HSU National Executive meeting - before we visited Williamson's home and before Kathy Jackson announced Thomson would be referred to police:

It is understood the decision may rest on whether the Health Services Union, of which Mr Thomson was the secretary when the alleged credit card misuse took place, is willing to assist police and provide the documents that would either implicate or exonerate Mr Thomson.

One issue detectives will consider is whether Mr Thomson is legally deemed to have acted ''dishonestly'' in his use of the union's funds.

Sources said it was highly unlikely the union would pursue charges.

The Health Services Union Secretary, Michael Williamson, and executive president, Kathy Jackson, both declined requests from the Herald yesterday to comment.

Philip's sources were Labor Party/Williamson allies within the HSU and he accurately reported what they said and what they believed - that Thomson would not be referred to police.   What Philip and the Labor Party sources didn't know was that I'd been briefed the night before (23 August 2011) about Williamson's intention to keep the Thomson matter in-house, I was shown the draft public statement to that effect (drafted by Slater and Gordon) - I saw the plans for the HSU National Executive to follow Williamson's lead and act to keep Thomson's crimes away from the gaze of the police.  

As a result of what I found out that night, our 2UE reporter and a camera crew visited Williamson's house, got him on the record and made the otherwise unreported and secret HSU meeting very, very public.   Williamson dropped his bundle, didn't attend the meeting and a very brave and conscientious Kathy Jackson was able to reverse the plan to protect Thomson - and she reported him to the police that day.

As the Royal Commission finalises its inquiries about Thomson/Williamson/Jackson I hope it starts with the events of 24 August and the days leading up to them.   Why did Williamson do so much to protect Thomson?   What influence did the parliamentary party bring to bear to keep Thomson protected from criminal charges?   Why did Williamson communicate to the parliamentary Labor party that "we're safe as houses"?   What was Graham Richardson's role in negotiating the payout to Fairfax of its costs in Thomson's defamation proceedings?   Why did the Labor Party spend so much of its money to finance Thomson's legal costs - when Thomson was accused of stealing from HSU members?   What business was it of the Labor Party in fighting against the interests of HSU members?

Kathy Jackson's public troubles started from the date she reported Thomson to police.   Any inquiry that does not inquire into and report on the events around 24 August 2011 would - in my respectful view - be incomplete.

I'll leave you with the mayhem of 24 August 2011 in the Parliament as Gillard went ballistic - here's the ABC's PM program from that afternoon.

MARK COLVIN: In what may prove a turning point in the case of the Federal Labor MP Craig Thomson, the union he used to head has called in the cops.

The executive of the Health Services Union today unanimously decided to refer allegations against Mr Thomson to the New South Wales Police.

The union says it made the decision in light of new material in recent weeks and of yesterday's decision by police to assess whether there should be a formal investigation.

The national secretary of the union Kathy Jackson says that in making the decision, the union put the interests of its members first, ahead of the Labor Party.

The decision pre-empted a spiteful debate in Parliament, with the Opposition Leader attempting to suspend standing orders to force the Prime Minister to make a statement about Mr Thomson.

The vote was lost as the Opposition didn't have the numbers and Julia Gillard responded by cutting short Question Time.

Chief political correspondent Sabra Lane.

SABRA LANE: The temperature in Parliament is almost at boiling point. 

TONY ABBOTT: Until this Prime Minister and this Government can put this grubby business behind it this Government will not be able to address any other issues. 


ANTHONY ALBANESE: Not interested whatsoever. Just interested in slurs...


ANTHONY ALBANESE: ...slurs and digging dirt against members of Parliament.

SABRA LANE: First thing this morning, the Opposition failed in an attempt to force Craig Thomson to give a personal explanation to Parliament about the credit card allegations.

It also denied the Government pairing arrangements, meaning that the Opposition's Malcolm Turnbull and the Arts Minister Simon Crean missed attending the memorial service for painter Margaret Olley. 

Mr Crean was livid. He says Mr Turnbull was peeved too.

SIMON CREAN: And he too is very upset. I'm furious. He was a good friend of Margaret's. He was her local member. I mean, what sort of madness is this? And Tony Abbott denying pairs for a stunt in the Parliament that he cannot win so what is the point?

SABRA LANE: Mr Thomson's under investigation over allegations that a credit card issued in his name was used to pay prostitutes while he was the Health Services Union national secretary.

The MPs denied the claims, saying that someone forged his signature. He won't say who.

Last week Mr Thomson updated the members' register of interests to disclose the NSW Labor Party paid his legal fees for a defamation case he started then dropped against Fairfax. It's claimed the payments were made to stop him from being declared bankrupt. 

Fair Work Australia's been investigating the case for two years and earlier this week the Opposition wrote to NSW Police to ask it to examine the case.

Police say they're assessing the material to see if it warrants a formal investigation and it seems that prompted the Health Services Union to make today's decision.

Its national secretary, Kathy Jackson:

KATHY JACKSON: Although we continue to believe that Fair Work Australia is an appropriate investigative body, in these circumstances and based on the new material that has come to light in recent weeks and to remove any suggested impediment to the investigation of the NSW Police, the national executive has today resolved to refer the matter to the NSW Police and cooperate with any subsequent investigation.

SABRA LANE: Given the Government's tenuous hold on power, Ms Jackson was asked if the executive was conscious its decision could further destabilise Mr Thomson, and Labor.

KATHY JACKSON: Our first priority is the members of the Health Services Union, not to members of the Australian Labor Party.

REPORTER: Even though this might mean Tony Abbott sitting in the Lodge in a, you know, short period of time?

KATHY JACKSON: That's a matter for the Labor Party.

SABRA LANE: Predictably Craig Thomson was the focus of the first and only question in Question Time.

TONY ABBOTT: In light of the Member for Dobell's resignation as chairman of the House Economics Committee due to a NSW Police investigation, I ask the Prime Minister does the Member still have her complete confidence?

JULIA GILLARD: I've made many statements about that in this House and I stand by every one of them.

SABRA LANE: After that, the Opposition Leader Tony Abbott sought to suspend standing orders.

TONY ABBOTT: It is with considerable reluctance that I move this suspension of standing orders motion...

(jeering, laughter)


TONY ABBOTT: ... standing orders motion.

SABRA LANE: He wanted to force the Prime Minister to make a statement about Mr Thomson's case.

TONY ABBOTT: We have a Prime Minister in hiding on this issue. We have a Member in protection and we have a Government in paralysis. People with a reasonable explanation have nothing to fear from the facts.

SABRA LANE: Mr Thomson sat in the chamber expressionless and glassy eyed. The Opposition's manager of business, Christopher Pyne.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: The Prime Minister has spent the last week obfuscating in this House and stone-walling in this House, because we know she will do anything to avoid having to go to the people from losing the Member for Dobell.

SABRA LANE: The Government's Leader of the House, Anthony Albanese.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: What hypocrites we see from those opposite. There is no process, there is no convention, there is no tradition, there is no norm that this Leader of the Opposition will not trash. This man...

(cry of "or wreck, or wreck") not a conservative. He is a reactionary who's determined, who's been determined from day one with what is the longest dummy spit in Australian political history, to trash the Parliament, to trash the institutions and to drag everything down.

SABRA LANE: Andrew Wilkie, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott sided with the Government.

HARRY JENKINS: Order. The result of the division is ayes 71, noes 73, the question is therefore negative.

SABRA LANE: And with that, the Prime Minister pulled the plug on Question Time.

JULIA GILLARD: Could I ask that further questions be placed on the notice paper.



SABRA LANE: The Nationals Leader Warren Truss.

WARREN TRUSS: Closing down Question Time, have we ever seen anything like it?

(cries of "no")

But have we ever seen a government anything like this one? It's a disgrace to the Australian people. It's a disgrace to the democracy of our land.

A spoof. Very well done, very believable, very close to the truth - but I don't think it happened quite this way

UPDATE FROM THE EGG ON FACE FOR BREAKFAST DEPARTMENT This is from the guy who put the subtitles onto the MEMRI original clip - with the Obama bit edited in. The absence of Arabic subtitles to the Obama element should have given the game away!

Folks.......this a spoof. It was never intended to be taken as a legitimate news report. Obviously two things are at play here. One, I did the job too well. Two, we have come to the stage in the Obama presidency where quite literally..........anything is possible.
 We live and learn - today's lesson comes from Nathan Poe:

Poe's law

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Poe's law is an internet adage which states that, without a clear indicator of the author's intent, parodies of extremism are indistinguishable from sincere expressions of extremism.[1][2] Poe's Law implies that parody will often be mistaken for sincere belief, and sincere beliefs for parody.[3]


"Poe's Law" was originally written by Nathan Poe in 2005, in a post on, an internet forum about Christianity. The post was written in the context of a debate about creationism, where a previous poster had remarked "Good thing you included the winky. Otherwise people might think you are serious". Poe then replied, "Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is uttrerly [sic] impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won't mistake for the genuine article.".[1] The original statement of Poe's Law referred specifically to creationism, but it has since been generalized to apply to any kind of fundamentalism or extremism.[3]

Poe's post was a restatement of advice often posted on internet forums, about the need to clearly mark sarcasm and parody (e.g., with a smiling emoticon) to avoid confusion. As early as 1983, Jerry Schwarz, in a post on Usenet, wrote:

Avoid sarcasm and facetious remarks.

Without the voice inflection and body language of personal communication these are easily misinterpreted. A sideways smile, :-), has become widely accepted on the net as an indication that "I'm only kidding". If you submit a satiric item without this symbol, no matter how obvious the satire is to you, do not be surprised if people take it seriously.[4]

The Australian on the TURC's AWU dodgy invoices

Note the 2007 timing!   Here's the link to Mark Coultan's story published in The Australian today.

Builder BMD paid same for services as AWU union dues

The Australian Workers’ Union sent a construction company a bill for occupational health and safety services for exactly the amount it would cost to pay for the union fees of its employees, the trade union royal commission has heard.

Construction group BMD gave the AWU Victorian branch $18,900 that it could have awarded to its employees, counsel assist­ing the commission Jeremy Stoljar SC said.

The commission is investig­ating whether the union received lists of employees and payments from companies to artificially inflate its membership numbers and thereby gain a bigger say in the ALP.

In 2007, the union’s Victorian branch entered into an industrial agreement with BDM, in a separate agreement from the one it used in the rest of the country.

It then sent the company, which advertises itself as one of Australia’s largest privately-owned building companies, an invoice for $14,300 for “OH&S inspection at various work sites in Victoria”.

Shortly afterwards, 44 BMD employees were listed as union members. They included David Brick, who has told the commission he had never been an union member. In 2010, when the agreement was renewed, the union sent an invoice for “OHS training” for $19,800.

Mr Stoljar said this was exactly the amount of the AWU adult membership fees of $450 multiplied by the number of employees at BMD. The union had been unable to produce any evidence of OHS training.

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Bill Shorten was National Secretary and Chief Executive of the AWU until Monday, 26 November 2007

"The National Secretary acts as the Chief Executive of the AWU with the Branch Secretaries acting as the General Managers of each Branch.

They appoint staff, manage the finances of the union and ensure the union continues to stand up for AWU members by putting our members first."


Here's Bill's announcement about the day he stopped being Chief Executive responsible for the activities of the AWU - link to the archive is here.   Up until 26 November 2007 it's Bill's baby.

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Bill Shorten farewells AWU members

Monday, 26 November 2007

Bill Shorten - one of the AWU's greatest leaders - has sent a message to our union's 130,000 members, thanking them for the extraordinary support and opportunities he has had over last 14 years in what he describes as as challenging and memorable chapter of his working life.

Bill Shorten, former AWU National SecretaryBill Shorten, former AWU National Secretary



To all members of the Australian Workers' Union.

On Monday I formally resigned as National Secretary of the Australian Workers' Union, ending what has been the most enjoyable, challenging and memorable chapter of my working life thus far.

The Australian Workers' Union has been my life for the last fourteen years - a life made better by meeting so many of you. Working with and for our members has been a privilege.

I am honoured to have been elected to Parliament, and honoured to be able to be part of a Rudd Labor Government. I assure you that I will be taking the lessons I have learned from you with me and will always stand up for the rights of ordinary Australians to live decent, happy lives. 

The 1990s, when I joined the AWU, was a period of division and turmoil within our Union. I am proud that, under my leadership, the bitter infighting ceased and unity was restored. With unity came strength, and I was able to guide the AWU to a strong financial and membership position. 

The health of our finances enabled me to recruit new and talented officials, and together we have won major conditions and wages improvements for our members. At the same time, we encouraged greater training for our delegates, and I believe this has played a big role in creating safer and fairer workplaces.

For the last eleven years, we have faced the antagonistic and hostile Howard Government, and I am very proud that our great union maintained the discipline, momentum and desire which finally saw John Howard and his government soundly defeated.

These achievements would not have been possible without the support and encouragement of our legendary President, Bill Ludwig and all the Branch Secretaries. I would like to single out for thanks Cesar Melhem and the Victorian Branch for their loyalty and backing over the years.

Paul Howes has now been elected National Secretary, and he has my full support as he takes the AWU forward into a new era. I know the union is in safe hands.

Finally, I hope you are as proud of our great union as I am and always will be. Throughout our 121 year history, we have struggled and overcome obstacles that have destroyed weaker unions. Droughts, amalgamations, wars and draconian governments - the AWU has seen them all off, and that is due to the loyalty and strength of character of you, our members.



Contact Details
The Australian Workers' Union
Ph:  (02) 9264 5911
Fax: (02) 9264 5017
[email protected] 

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And here's the announcement of Bill's replacement, Paul Howes - archived here.

New national AWU leader calls for co-operative renewal of Australian "fair go "

27 November 2007

Australia's oldest and biggest blue-collar union has voted for generational change with Paul Howes, 26, elected as National Secretary after his predecessor, Bill Shorten, was elected on the weekend as part of the Rudd Labor Government. 

<b> Paul Howes</b>Paul Howes


" We want to build co-operative relationships with all sections of Australian society; a co-operative relationship to rebuild our fair-go traditions, traditions at the core of the 121 year old AWU's very history," Paul Howes said after being elected to lead the Australian Workers Union (AWU).

" I can assure you that the AWU, under my leadership, will work hard to build co-operative relationships with Rudd Labor and the business community.


What ABC radio told listeners about Paul Howes

New AWU secretary in manufacturing call

Heads up biggest union with deep roots in Australian history and culture

Paul Howes - who has worked for more than a decade in the union movement - said today it was an extraordinary honour to lead the 135,000 member AWU, a union with deep roots in Australia's soil, its history and culture.

Mr Howes told the AWU national executive that union members can rejoice at the result of the weekend election.

" The election result underlines the Australian national view that an era of divisiveness must now come to an end. The real views and interests of Australian working people and their unions should never again be swept aside and ignored by governments and business," Paul Howes said.

" The Federal election was a victory for the thousands of working people who campaigned for workplace decency, and against divisiveness.


Listen to all voices and govern for all Australians

" They want government in Canberra to balance their views alongside those of the business community, and other voices in our democratic civic society

" We agree with Kevin Rudd that he should govern for all Australians - not just one section of Australia. This is a view we will take to the ACTU Executive when it meets next week."


AWU indebted to Bill Shorten

Mr Howes thanked his predecessor Bill Shorten who played a remarkable role in reviving the fortunes of the AWU during his term as National AWU members a national voice during the Beaconsfield mine crisis.

" Bill Shorten will forever be remembered in our proud history as a union leader who returned our union to the centre stage of Australian life. He revived our union's fortunes, and helped it to grow in a tough era. The AWU is indebted to Bill Shorten.

" I am sure Bill will be an important voice in Canberra for all Australian working people. Our union looks forward to working closely with him, and the many other Labor MPs who are proud to be associated with the AWU tradition," Paul Howes said.


Focus on rights of working people gives opportunity to build better Australian workplaces

" While we rejoice this week the AWU cannot afford to rest now the Rudd Labor government has been elected," Paul Howes told his national executive.

" There has never been a period in our recent history where the focus has been so firmly on the rights of Australian working people. The election spotlight was definitely on this one core issue - the right to decency in the workplace. 

" This victory shows Australians expect governments - of all political hues - to respect the role of unions and their members in the workplace," Paul Howes said.

" The AWU now has an opportunity to build action campaigns which show the Australian people how, together, we can build a better society by, most importantly, involving more of our members in our workplace and community activity,' the new AWU National Secretary said.





Contact Details
The Australian Workers' Union
Ph:  (02) 9264 5911
Fax: (02) 9264 5017
[email protected] 


Finally here is the AWU's own description of the roles and responsibilities of its officers and its internal management structure - this is taken from an archived copy of the AWU's website here

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The Australian Workers' Union is a democratic organisation with rules that are registered with the australian Industrial Relations Commission.

The AWU is made up of over 135,000 working Australians who elect the officials of the AWU.

All members of the AWU are part of the 12 geographic and industry based Branches which make constitute the AWU.

Every four years AWU members elect the officials of the Branches and the officials of the AWU Nationally - this includes the Branch Secretary, the Branch President, the Branch Assistant Secretary, Organisers and other positions.

The same happens nationally with all 135,000 members electing the National Secretary, National Assistant Secretary and National President every four years.

Also elected at the same time is the National Executive and the Branch Executives which act as the Board of Directors for the union.

All of the actions of the AWU's elected officials are guided by the Rules of the AWU which are registered under the Workplace Relations Act in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

The National Secretary acts as the Chief Executive of the AWU with the Branch Secretaries acting as the General Managers of each Branch.

They appoint staff, manage the finances of the union and ensure the union continues to stand up for AWU members by putting our members first.

The AWU is affiliated with the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the International Metalworkers Federation, the International Union of Foodworkers and the International Transport Workers Federation.

The AWU is affiliated to the Australian Labor Party and many branches of the AWU are affiliated with their state Trades & Labor Council.


Here's the happy 2007 family.

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Counsel Assisting the Trade Union Royal Commission's opening remarks re BMD Pty Ltd and AWU shams

This apparently false invoicing scam has the hallmarks of the Bruce Wilson school of never-never training, OH&S and sundry other undelivered services designed to part companies from their money.
How serendipitous that no less august an organisation than the CFMEU has taken an interest in defining and researching Sham Contracting arrangements - read all about it here.
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Here's Mr Stoljar SC's remarks setting the scene for next week.
Today's hearing, or the hearings commencing today, will examine two payments made in 2007 and 2010, respectively, by BMD Constructions Pty Ltd (BMD) to AWU (Vic).

BMD is a civil construction company. It carries out work in Victoria and elsewhere.

The Commission has obtained a number of witness statements, which will be put into evidence today.

No affected party has sought to examine the witnesses who have provided today's witness statements. In the absence of oral evidence, a short opening may assist in understanding this evidence.

To some extent what follows relies on inferences from those documents the Commission has been able to obtain to date.

Further witnesses relevant to BMD have been summonsed for next week.

In 2007 BMD and the AWU entered into an agreement described as the BMD Constructions Pty Ltd General Collective Agreement 2007, which applied to BMD employees in the performance of all construction and maintenance works in all states and territories of Australia exceptVictoria. This agreement came into force on 2 November 2007 according to records maintained by the Fair Work Commission.

In addition, at what appears to be about the same time, BMD and the AWU entered into an agreement described as the BMD Constructions Pty Ltd Victoria Collective Agreement 2007, which applied to BMD employees in the performance of all construction and maintenance works in Victoria (2007 EBA) (Tab 1/1-16E). This agreement came into force on 2 May 2008 according to records maintained by the Fair Work Commission.

On 28 November 2007 the AWU (Vic) issued tax invoice 020328 to BMD seeking payment in the amount of $14,300 inclusive of GST (the 2007 invoice) (Tab 3/54).

The 2007 invoice does not on its face relate to union membership. The description of the services apparently provided by the AWU to BMD on the 2007 invoice is: 'OH&S inspection at various work sites in Victoria'. The item code on the invoice is 'OHS COURSE'.

The invoice was marked to the attention of Andy Marcos. Mr Marcos is and was a director of BMD. Mr Marcos has been summonsed to give evidence in the Commission on Tuesday, 2 June 2015.

On 18 December 2007 BMD paid the 2007 invoice by cheque (Tab 4/55, Tab 5/56).

On 2 January 2008 the AWU (Vic) received and recorded payment of the 2007 tax invoice.

I note that in the hard copy of this document references to numbers followed by a symbol are to the numbered tab and page numbers in the folder that you, Commissioner, have now marked "BMD Bundle".

On 2 January 2008 the AWU (Vic) received and recorded payment of the 2007 tax invoice.

As noted above the 2007 invoice is said to be for services provided by the AWU to BMD in relation to OH&S inspections at various worksites in Victoria.

On 1 or 2 January 2008 44 BMD employees became members of the AWU, according to the AWU membership register.

Amongst the 44 BMD employees who purportedly became members of the AWU on 1 or 2 January 2008 was Mr David Brick.

Mr Brick has given a statement of evidence to the Commission dated 26 May 2015.

Mr Brick's evidence indicates that so far as he is aware he is not a member of the AWU and has never been a member of the AWU. Mr Brick also deposes that he is not aware of any arrangement under which BMD paid moneys to the AWU on his behalf for union membership fees.

2010 payment

The next relevant sequence of events occurred in 2010.

The 2007 EBA had a nominal expiry date of 30 September 2010 (Tab 1/2).

In or by June 2010 negotiations were underway between BMD and the AWU in relation to a replacement EBA.

On 8 June 2010 Matthew Smith sent an email to Cesar Melhem, then State Secretary of the AWU (Vic), and Kahu Tapara, an organiser with the AWU (Vic), noting that a meeting room had been booked for an EBA meeting with the BMD labour force on Friday, 11 June 2010 (Tab 8/59).

During the course of these negotiations Mr Melhem requested that Mr Smith provide him with a list of all BMD's Victorian employees for the purposes of organising the voting for the 2010 EBA and Mr Smith complied with this request.

The evidence for this is as follows:-

- Mr Smith's evidence is that at a meeting to negotiate the 2010 EBA Mr Melhem said that he needed
a 'list of all of our [ie BMD's] employees so that he could organise the voting for the 2010 EBA' (emphasis added). Neither Mr Melhem nor the AWU have sought to examine
Mr Smith nor to challenge this evidence.

- On 10 June 2010 at 12.38pm Mr Smith sent to Mr Melhem and Mr Tapara a list of 41 employees of BMD. In his covering email Mr Smith described this as 'a list of our current labour force here in Vic' (Tab 9/60).

At 4.23 pm on the same day that Mr Smith sent the list of BMD's employees to Mr Melhem, 10 June 2010, an employee of the AWU (Vic), Rebecca Eagles, sent an invoice to Andy Marcos of BMD attaching invoice 022302 (the 2010 invoice) (Tab 11/65).

 The 2010 invoice included under the heading 'Description' the following words: 'Providing OHS training and carrying Safety Audit for various worksites in Victoria'. The item code in the 2010 invoice was 'MEMBERSHIP'.

The said email which Ms Eagles sent to Andy Marcos on 10 June 2010 was in the following terms (Tab 11/64):

As per your recent discussion with Cesar Melhem please find attached an invoice for OHS training.

The breakdown is as follows: 40 members x $450.00 + GST = $19,800.00.

Please do not hesitate to contact Cesar or myself should you have any questions.

The amount of $19,800.00 referred to in Ms Eagles' email exactly reflects the amount sought in the 2010 invoice.

$450 was the rate for an adult member of the AWU as at June 2010, as appears from information supplied to the Commission from the AWU (Tab 36/360).

The foregoing suggests strongly that the amount of $19,800.00 sought by the AWU (Vic) in the 2010 invoice in truth reflected the cost of 40 purported members of the AWU and not (despite the express wording of the 2010 invoice) the cost to providing OHS training and the provision of safety audits.

This is supported by the fact that the Commission has issued notice to produce 1108 to BMD seeking among other things documents recording training carried out as a result of the 2010 invoice (Tab 29/326, 331C) and to date no such documents have been produced (Tab 29/331A).

As noted above the list supplied by Mr Smith on 10 June 2010 comprised 41 names.

Some of the persons on that list appear to have completed membership applications (Tab 34).

However Mr Brick was again recorded on the list supplied on 10 June 2010 (Tab 9/60). Mr Brick's evidence is set out above.

Another name on the list supplied by Mr Smith was Mr Panagiotis Maroudas (Tab 9/60).

Mr Maroudas deposes that so far as he was aware he is not a member of the AWU and never has been. Mr Maroudas also deposes that he is not aware of any arrangement under which BMD paid moneys to the AWU on his behalf for union membership fees.

A further person on the list submitted by Mr Smith on 10 June 2010 was Mr Leo Sargent (Tab 9/60).

Mr Sargent's evidence is that he was a member of the AWU (Vic), but that he paid his union dues by payroll deduction.

Mr Sargent's evidence is that he was not aware of any arrangement under which BMD paid moneys to the AWU on his behalf for union membership fees.

The Commission will investigate over the coming days whether some employees of BMD were entered upon the AWU's membership roll when they were not truly members.

It will also investigate whether persons at the AWU created or caused to be created false accounting records to conceal this fact.

There is also the following issue. Did the AWU's efforts to get additional members on its register come at the expense of its existing members whom it was supposed to be representing in negotiations with BMD?

For example, take the 2010 invoice. Instead of securing BMD's agreement to pay $18,000 plus GST to the union as part of the EBA negotiations in 2010, why could the AWU (Vic) not have secured BMD's agreement to increase by that amount the wages or entitlements of the 41 employees the AWU (Vic) were supposed to be representing?

A similar issue may arise in the context of the Cleanevent case study.

As with the Cleanevent case study, this may be a situation where officials at the AWU were putting their own interests in obtaining the appearance of increased membership ahead of the interests of the AWU's members.


Significant win for Federal (LNP) and QLD (Labor) Governments - President Obama put in his place by UNESCO

You might recall Obama's intemperate, exaggerated and ungracious remarks about Australia's Great Barrier Reef during his speech to fawning students at the University of Queensland during last year's G20 gathering - here's part of The Age's Obama-promotional material:

G20 summit: Barack Obama puts climate change at fore in speech at University of Queensland

US President Barack Obama has placed climate change at the forefront of the G20 summit in Brisbane, announcing a $US3 billion contribution to the Green Climate Fund, and calling on young Australians to pressure politicians to resist vested interests and tackle global warming.

In a wide-ranging speech he also declared the United States would never abandon its leadership in the Asia-Pacific and called on countries to tackle Ebola rather than build moats around their island nations.

Australia resisted US pressure to place climate change on the official G20 agenda. However, it will be raised in the discussion on energy.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott raised his government's repeal of Labor's carbon tax in a speech to a gathering of world leaders, which included President Obama, earlier on Saturday.

A few hours later, Mr Obama was applauded every time he mentioned climate change in his speech at the University of Queensland. He warned that no region in the globe had more at stake than the Asia-Pacific and said climate change meant more bushfires, flooding, extreme storms and rising seas in Australia.

"The incredible natural glory of the Great Barrier Reef is threatened," Mr Obama warned.

The President said he wanted to return to Australia to visit the reef with his daughters when he had more time. "And I want them to be able to bring their daughters or sons to visit and I want that there 50 years from now," he said to applause.

As foreshadowed, he pledged $US3 billion to the Green Climate Fund to help developing nations adapt to cleaner-fuelled economies.

"Let them leap frog some of the dirty industries that powered our development, go straight to a clean-energy economy that allows them to grow, create jobs and at the same time reduce their carbon pollution," he said.

And he directly pleaded with Australia's youth to "keep raising their voices" and challenge "entrenched interests".

"It is in the nature of the world that those of us who start getting grey hair are a little set in our ways. That interests are entrenched.  Not because people are bad people, it's just that's how we've been doing things and we make investments and companies start depending on certain energy sources and change is uncomfortable and difficult," he said.

"And that's why it's so important for the next generation to step in and say 'it doesn't have to be this way'," he said.


Julie Bishop, to her eternal credit, took the fight right up to Obama at the UN in New York, despite the best efforts of the ABC to pour scorn on the Abbott Government's efforts to correct Obama's misinformation about the Great Barrier Reef

Well today the jury's verdict came in - "the incredible glory of the Great Barrier Reef" is not in danger and our work in managing the Reef has been validated by UNESCO.


Here's the joint Labor/LNP media release:

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 8.08.13 pm Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 8.08.25 pm

Thanks for nothing Barack - stick to stuff you know about old mate and leave us to look after our own stuff - we're doing just fine without your "help".