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July 2015

Barristers in our adversarial legal system

This is an immensely moving and difficult story to read - it's also brilliantly researched and written by Natasha Wallace.

It involves a barrister you'll recognise and I know many of us have written glowingly of the barrister's performances at the TURC.  Barristers are paid advocates who should adopt the "next cab off the rank" approach to appearances - i.e. they should accept the briefs that come their way from instructing solicitors.  That said there must be some lines that are uncrossable in adversarial justice.

I hope this story makes you think.

You can find the 2005 original here.

The brothers grim

July 22, 2005

Manipulating the law did not save four brothers from being convicted of violent gang rapes. But trial delays increased the suffering of their victims. Natasha Wallace reports.


The four brothers hunted girls like a pack of wild dogs. For six months in 2002, they targeted young, vulnerable girls, lured them to their home in Ashfield, and raped them. They would video their victims, typically baby-faced teenagers, semi-conscious after being plied with alcohol, as they committed grossly degrading acts.

Many of the girls on the videotapes, perhaps a dozen, could not be identified by the police. Of those who could, only six agreed to testify at trial and only three of them did. That they went ahead at all is remarkable - they had to endure countless delays over two years because the brothers persuaded the courts their trials could not proceed as juries might have been prejudiced by publicity about the crimes.

Until now the media has been forbidden from publishing anything about the trials or why they were delayed. Now they are over, the Herald can reveal the full extent of the crimes of MSK, 26, MAK, 25, MRK, 20, and MMK, 19 - but still cannot name them because two were juveniles at the time.

Their attacks followed a pattern - MMK, then 16, would befriend a girl, meet her several times, and build up her trust. Eventually, he would invite her to the Ashfield house for "a party", encouraging her to bring a friend or two. He and MAK would pick them up from home or a train station, while the other men waited at the house. They would then spend hours getting the girls to drink alcohol before they pounced.

The brothers, Muslims from Pakistan, targeted mostly Anglo-Saxon Australian girls whom they would later call "sluts" as they attacked them.

"Their pastime was to go out and pick up as many girls as they could and if they didn't consent they would basically force it on them," said the officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Leading Senior Constable Tony Adams.

"They were like a pack of animals. The videos reminded me of a pack of hyenas around a carcass," he said. "They targeted girls who were vulnerable, they were young, they were naive, and they were susceptible to being told they were beautiful. They … got their trust and moved in for the kill."

Some of the attacks were extremely violent - girls were held at knifepoint and told they would be killed if they went to police. After another girl was assaulted, MRK allegedly threw her against a wall and said: "If a Leb wants to f--- you, you f--- them."

The "Leb" seems to be a reference to the phrase used in the infamous Skaf gang rapes - "I'm going to f--- you Leb-style".

The brothers came to Australia from Pakistan around 2001 with other members of their family, brought over by their father. The eldest, MSK, is married with a six-year-old son.

MSK and MAK were licensed security guards on Sydney trains. They also worked at a Surry Hills convenience store. MAK also worked for a CBD food outlet, handing out leaflets in the city.


One victim, who was 14 when she was raped by MSK and MAK, mutilated herself from frustration - her legs still bear the scars - having waited 18 months for the trial to begin. When it finished, she had just four weeks until her school exams.

"I was worried about my HSC. It just felt like it was never going to end. But it was more the fact that they had control again. I wanted the control back … whether it be physically or mentally … I wanted to regain some power but I couldn't do anything about it, I could only just sit by and watch," she told the Herald. "This is worse than murder, at least with murder it's over."

One mother is still attending court more than three years after her daughter was raped because of continuing appeals. She says "the whole system sometimes is just laughable".

"The delays - that is the biggest joke. I don't care how but that's got to stop … they've definitely milked the system," she said. "You psych yourself up, and your children, and then you go to court and then you're told there's yet another delay. How are the girls supposed to move on? The victims are still forgotten when they hit the justice system."

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Nicholas Cowdery, told the Herald the "extraordinary lengths" gone to by MSK and MAK to delay and interrupt their trials meant the girls' suffering was prolonged.

"I sympathise enormously with the plight of victims. They become victims for a second time by involvement in … extraordinary proceedings of this kind," Cowdery said. "If innocent victims are put through this degree of suffering as a consequence of any shortcomings in the system then they will be deterred from coming forward … great harm would be done to the community generally if that occurs."


The brothers tested the tolerance of the court system to its limits by their strategies. They insisted they were victims of an anti-Muslim conspiracy and police set-up, and that they had to be represent themselves because all barristers thought Muslims were rapists. They wanted six Muslim jurors.

The case has thrown into sharp relief the difficulty of balancing the rights of the accused and those of the victims. It has also highlighted grey areas in the laws on sexual assault.

The first rape trial in 2003 attracted attention due to the brutality of the crimes and a controversial new law that stopped the brothers from personally cross-examining their victims. Separate trials were ordered, meaning the victims had to give evidence twice. Juries found the brothers and a friend, RS, 25, guilty of gang rape of two girls.

MSK, MAK, MRK, and MMK were sentenced to between 10 and 22 years in jail in April last year. RS hanged himself in his cell a week before the sentencing.

In prison, MSK and MAK had time to burn in their shared cell - they pored over legal texts and plotted how to delay the planned five trials ahead.

MSK, who was arrested in August 2002 boarding a flight to Pakistan, had been hoping the delays would cause the victims to give up their fight, Adams said. "He's a smart man. He's so cunning it's dangerous."

The next trials were due to start in the NSW Supreme Court in October last year, but Justice Carolyn Simpson granted a stay.

MSK and MAK had argued that during Ramadan they would be too tired and hungry to take part. They also argued media publicity on their appeal against the earlier conviction (in which they were not named) would prejudice their trial.

They had conducted their first trial, self-represented, during Ramadan.

In November, Justice Graham Barr granted them another stay, again due to potential prejudice flowing from earlier media reports.

In March, MSK and MAK argued for another stay, saying a lecture given by Crown Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen - who prosecuted their first trials - was potentially prejudicial. This was refused. They appealed. The Court of Criminal Appeal dismissed it.

Cunneen had said: "Justice isn't achieved by ambush, trickery, dragging proceedings out in a war of attrition with witnesses. Perhaps it is time for us to consider whether public confidence in the courts is now being eroded by the perception that the pendulum has swung rather too far in the direction of the protection of the rights of the accused person."

Cunneen, who was forced to share the bar table with MSK and MAK as they represented themselves, recently told the Herald that while their legal knowledge was "outstanding", they used it to hinder the trial.

When trials were finally due to begin in mid-March, MSK claimed he was suffering mental illness, forcing a one-week hearing on his fitness to plead. The fitness hearing was comical - the day it began MSK sacked his barrister, Malcolm Ramage, QC, saying he was an ASIO spy who would put him in Guantanamo Bay. He threw himself about the dock, lay down on the floor and called Justice Rod Howie "Father Pope".

Dr Stephen Allnutt, a psychiatrist, said he had never seen anything like it, remarking that MSK was "extremely insightful about legal matters".

Despite his behaviour, MSK competently questioned his wife and his father on the stand. His father, a GP registered in Sydney, told the court MSK had schizophrenia. MSK's wife told the court he was insane because he talked to the air-conditioner or Shatharn (the devil). Police are considering asking the Director of Public Prosecutions to lay perjury charges against the two.

A jury found MSK was not mentally ill. When his trial finally started, it turned into even more of a circus.

MSK sacked so many barristers that Legal Aid twice refused him more. He appealed twice, won, and then both times sacked his barristers.

His victim later told the Herald: "The court system is f---ed. I don't understand how legally they kept dishing out new barristers."

MSK refused to come to court, insisting he was mentally ill, despite two psychiatrists saying otherwise. Even his barrister, Adam Morison, said he was probably "bunging it on".

Justice Hidden said he was "troubled" by whether he could continue in the absence of the defendant.

The conundrum worsened when MSK sacked Morison, passing the judge a note that read in part: "I sacked Mr Morison today because I had been advised from Allah that I have become Angel Gabriel again."

The judge expressed "grave doubts" as to MSK's sincerity and his resolve to continue. But when he asked MSK if he wanted to cross-examine a detective, he shouted at the jury: "Yes, I would like to say something. We three … brothers are convicted rapists … sexual assault in company and you know that."

Everyone sat in shock. A defendant's previous convictions are kept secret from jury members to ensure a fair trial. Surely the trial would now have to be aborted.

As the jury was ushered out to allow legal discussions, he bellowed: "When are you f---ing people just going to sit down there and listen to me, you f---ing racist dogs."

Crown Prosecutor Ken McKay, whom MSK had called a "f---ing dickhead", said: "This is a deliberate choice to carry on in this way and it falls in his own hands. It seems deliberately calculated … to try and have this trial abort altogether." The trial was almost over, and the victim had gone through days of gruelling evidence.

But there was no doubt the jury would now be prejudiced. Also, it was clear MSK would continue with his outbursts. Justice Hidden ordered a retrial for the other two co-accused, MAK and MMK, but not for MSK.

MAK later pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated sexual assault (he had faced four charges). MMK - the only brother without damning DNA evidence against him, was found not guilty in a judge-alone retrial. The victim fled the courtroom, and slumped to the floor outside, inconsolable.

Justice Hidden made it clear to MSK that his trial would continue.

"Who cares … I don't give a f---," he replied. "I simply say at this stage if I take [kill] Mr [crown prosecutor Ken] McKay, how much sentence will I take?"

Justice Hidden persevered: "If you behave in a way which is prejudicial to yourself, I'm afraid that you will bring that upon yourself. You will suffer the consequences."

MSK stood up in the dock and hurled two pears which hit the wall just above the jury, causing its members to scream. (He could not be handcuffed, as that was deemed prejudicial). Soon after, he passed a note to the Crown asking that the trial be aborted. It was ignored.

So he again shouted at the jury: "I have been convicted for gang rape, all right, and I'm doing 22 years' sentence, all right. There's no need for you to write anything."

After four days of MSK's behaviour, barrister Ronald Driels appeared for him, arguing for another fitness hearing and for the jury to be discharged because the trial was "flawed" and "prejudiced". The prosecution's case had just finished.

It was like Groundhog Day. The trial was delayed again for more psychiatric evidence.

When Justice Peter Hidden later dismissed the application, MSK grabbed a glass and carafe from the bar table, smashed the top off the carafe and held it up to the prosecution solicitor, Sheridan Goodwin. She ducked under the bar table and he threw it at two complainants' mothers, missing them, then threw the glass at the bench, saturating the stenographer. McKay had to restrain him.

MSK was found guilty of all four counts of aggravated sexual assault. He is yet to be sentenced.

The victim said the worst part of the trial for her was Morison's cross-examination - he caused jaws to drop when he accused her of offering "to do it 69-style" with MSK.

"It's always going to be terrible. In your mind you relive the experience over and over again. A smell will set it off or a word … but nothing was as hard as retelling the whole story in depth and in detail while being accused of being a liar," she said.

Meanwhile, as the brothers' appeals against the first convictions continue, the girls are unable to restart their lives.

Recently, the Court of Criminal Appeal said the credibility of MSK and MAK "seems to be of a very low order". The court noted, however, that

"with all these matters, a balance must be struck" and granted their application for more time to obtain psychology reports. Their appeal against sentencing was put off for another four months.

A psychology report as far back as their first trial stated MSK had no psychosis. It noted "personality traits of narcissism, grandiosity and callousness … aggressive and sadistic tendencies", and called him "cunning".

The victims got no sympathy from the brothers' family.

After the first conviction in 2003, the boys' father said: "What do they expect to happen to them? Girls from Pakistan don't go out at night."

Contacted in Sydney last month by the Herald he said: "You are the enemy. You are the enemy of the Muslim. You white people help only the white people … they are not rapists."

At 2PM The Commission resumed its hearing in Canberra

The first witness is Donald Thomson - a director of Trojan Scaffolding.

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Mr Thompson has made a witness statement, he's adopted it and it's been tendered in evidence.

Mr Thompson attended the now notorious meetings of scaffolders with the CFMEU preparatory to a CFMEU EBA in 2013.

He states "there was discussion that scaffolders would not charge a rate below a certain price."

Mr Thompson reminds me of Australians I knew many many years ago.

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At 2.20PM, having established that Mr Thompson's recollection is pretty much the same as the other scaffolding companies - i.e. that the CFMEU extorted the companies agreement to enter into EBAs - Mr Stoljar completed his examination.

Mr Morison had one or two questions.

At 2.22PM Mr Agius got to his feet.

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Mr Agius is doing his leading question best to make sure a picture is painted that reflects no price-fixing agreement, "what actually happened was that the union represented that in order to pay the wages set out in the EBA it might require a certain level of prices for scaffolding".   Still sounds pretty close to collusion to me - but then Mr Agius would know.

Right on cue - life is about to get more complicated for the CFMEU in the ACT:

ACCC fears cartel conduct in Canberra construction industry


Australia's competition and fair trade watchdog says its aware of alleged cartel conduct in Canberra's construction industry.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on Thursday said it was aware of "serious allegations and evidence" presented to the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption.

Chairman Rod Sims said the alleged conduct mainly concerned the capital's concreting and scaffolding industries. 

"Cartel conduct such as price fixing, anti-competitive agreements and attempts to bring about collusive arrangements are matters of grave concern to the ACCC," he said.

Under the Competition and Consumer Act (2010) there are civil and criminal penalties for cartel conduct.

The ACCC said it did not generally comment on its investigations but "considered it was appropriate in this case due to the public nature of the allegations"

Read more:


The next witness is Horry Watt - I hope his nickname is Horrible.

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It's so lovely to see two blokes like Horry and Thommo in the box and still active in the construction caper!

I sincerely hope Horry and Thommo are lining up for a chilled refresher or two this arve after putting in the hard yards with the Commission today.

They remind me of the increasingly unfamiliar and distant Aussie character I love.

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CFME National Office financial snapshot - last year's financial reports now overdue

Here is a link to the latest financial report filed with the Fair Work Commission by Michael O'Connor's CFMEU national head office - for the year ending 31 December 2013

By now the year ending 31 December 2014 is way overdue.

The Commission criticised Mr O'Connor for the tardy 2013 filing 

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There were other criticisms too, leading to this ominous observation:

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But have a look at where the CFMEU's money has been going:

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All the old mates get a hand-up - Bob Katter for $125 large, Bill Shorten, Wayne Swan.

And there was more than $2 million for a bit of Abbott Bashing

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Running the CFMEU is nice work if you can get it

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Looking forward to the next 4 weeks?

Dave Noonan says Australia is on the path to a tinpot dictatorship if Lomax is convicted

Dave Noonan and the CFMEU don't get it.   It's not the act of getting a company to sign an EBA that Lomax was charged over - it's the alleged threats and menaces that he's alleged to have made as coercion to have the business sign up.

The Canberra Times has produced some excellent coverage on this issue, it's very useful to hear Dave Noonan's take on the matter.

Lomax charge puts Australia on path to tinpot dictatorship: union


Read more:

John Lomax is scheduled to appear in court next week.

John Lomax is scheduled to appear in court next week. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Australia would be no better than a "tinpot dictatorship" and turn its back on a century of industrial progress if John Lomax were convicted of blackmail, the construction union says.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union said it feared the case could become a precedent that would open the door for future criminal prosecutions targeting union officials during industrial negotiations.

Lomax – a CFMEU organiser who played 65 games for the Canberra Raiders from 1993 to 1996 – was last week charged with one count of blackmail.

CFMEU national construction secretary Dave Noonan  has pledged to throw the union's full weight behind John Lomax's defence.

CFMEU national construction secretary Dave Noonan has pledged to throw the union's full weight behind John Lomax's defence. Photo: Joe Armao

He is scheduled to appear before the ACT Magistrates Court next week.

The owner believed he would be blocked from working in the ACT and NSW if he did not sign.

It is understood police will allege the owner suffered a financial loss as a result because  he had to pay his workers $26 an hour when he could have paid as low as $17.

CFMEU national construction secretary Dave Noonan said Lomax would plead not guilty on  the charge  and pledged to throw the union's full weight behind his defence.

Lomax is the third person to be arrested by police attached to the commission, and the second person associated with the ACT CFMEU branch after former organiser Halafihi "Fihi" Kivalu was charged with two counts of blackmail.

He has pleaded not guilty.

The Lomax prosecution has left Mr Noonan questioning why the police became involved in an industrial matter.

Mr Noonan said employers, workers and unions all had rights that are set out in the Fair Work Act.

The act provided options for parties who believed the other side had not acted in good faith.

 He said to revert to criminal law in such a matter was unprecedented in Australia.

"There's been a legal framework for this for more than 100 years and there are very clearly set-out rights and responsibilities for parties negotiating agreements.

"But what we see here is entirely different, we're seeing an attempt by Tony Abbott's royal commission to use criminal law in what are legitimate employment matters.

"The union is extremely concerned about this precedent, asking for a pay rise shouldn't be a crime but it appears in Tony Abbott's Australia it is going to be treated as one."

The police would not have acted if the situation were reversed, and an employer had failed to pay full conditions and entitlements, or had pressured staff not to sign an EBA, Mr Noonan said.

"The police have got an important role in enforcing criminal law and we respect that, [but] asking for a pay rise and the union negotiating better wages and conditions for its members is not a criminal matter, or at least it's not in democratic modern countries.

"If this becomes the norm, any union, any unionist, or any worker using normal negotiating tactics to try and get a pay rise could also be targeted."

He said the CFMEU had expressed those fears to the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

"If Mr Lomax is convicted – and I'm not suggesting he is because this case is going to be fought and fought hard – for merely asking that a contractor sign an EBA then Australia would be putting itself in the position of a tinpot dictatorship.

"It would be rejecting 100 years of Australian industrial law and progress and it would be a gross breach of the conventions of the International Labour  Organisation around collective bargaining and freedom of association which Australia has ratified."

Despite the concerns, he pledged the attack would not stop the construction union representing the best interests of its members.

"In terms of negotiating wages and conditions for our members, the CFMEU have a proud history of that, we have some of the best agreements for workers in the country – construction is a tough industry and we're not going to back off from doing legitimate things a union needs to do to ensure its members get decent wages, decent working conditions, and good safety on site."

Read more:

Day 4 Week 3 TURC CFMEU corruption hearings in Canberra commence 10AM - 7 witnesses

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The Commission expects today to be the last day of public sittings in Canberra - the Commission will hear private evidence tomorrow.

The evidence of CFMEU witnesses will not be heard this week - it's heard from more witnesses than it expected, about 50 in total.   The CFMEU witnesses will be in the box in the last week of August.

Mr Stoljar has tendered a couple of witness statements - two of today's witnesses, Mr Dean Law and perhaps a Mr Hanford of the CEPU.

Mr McCarthy of Counsel appears for the first witnesses Ms Natasha Roache, a bank officer of the Commonwealth Bank.

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Ms Roache was a customer service officer with the bank in August 2010 - she'd then held that role for a couple of months.

Mr Stoljar is conducting a detailed, forensic and unrelenting examination of Ms Roache's actions in witnessing a Statutory Declaration at the CBA in August 2010.   From the line of questioning it appears that Ms Roache may have exceeded her authority in witnessing the statutory declaration - she has left blank the area of the form describing her qualifications for properly witnessing the declaration.

Mr McCarthy objects to the line of questioning on the grounds of relevance.

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Mr Stoljar states that the circumstances surrounding the creation and witnessing of this document and the use to which the document has been put are very important matters for the Commission's Terms of Reference.

Mr Stoljar, "You weren't authorised to witness this stat dec as at August 2010 were you?"

Ms Roache, "It appears not".

Ms Roache states that she was not aware she was not so qualified at the time.

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The questions continue, did you have any training on stat decs, was there a register of stat decs signed, was there a written process for signing, why did you leave this that and the other box blank, had you signed stat decs before.   It will be interesting to compare the enthusiasm for this line of questioning for a junior bank officer against that for Ms Gillard who can't recall signing a Power of Attorney in favour of her boyfriend but who is sure she signed it properly.

At 10.18 Mr Stoljar completed his examination.  Mr Agius has no questions.   Mr Morrison is on his feet.

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Mr Morrison's second question brought the ire of Mr McCarthy, "is this the first time you've given this the first time you've been in trouble for doing something wrong like this?"

Much discussion about whether Ms Roache is in trouble or has consciously done something wrong.

Mr Morison narrows down that Ms Roache has no recollection of witnessing the document in question, she has answered in general terms like "I would not have signed it if the person did not sign it in front of me".

Ms Roache agrees that this may well be the first stat dec she's witnessed.

10.30AM and Mr Morrison continues with his line of questioning - that Ms Roache can't deny that it's possible the deponent was not present in front of her.   Poor Ms Roache is very nervous and very defensive.

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10.30 + a few seconds and the first of the day's drop outs.

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Mr Morrison continues to press the same point, "You're worried you've done the wrong thing here, you can't say with certainty that you haven't have you?   Why have you got a lawyer?"

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After a brief re-examination by Mr McCarthy Ms Roache was excused at 10.43AM

The next witness is Vince Spatolisano

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Mr Spatolisano is now in his own business, he is a former employee of MPR Scaffolding.

Mr Stoljar simply asked Mr Spatolisano to adopt his witness statement, he did and it's been tendered into evidence without further questions from Counsel Assisting.

Mr Agius is cross examining - commencing with Mr Spatolisano's recollection of his where about during a week in 2010.

Mr Spatolisano has no idea he was covered by an EBA between MPR and the CFMEU in 2010.

Mr Agius appears keen to get some matters on the record here that might be of interest to the Federal Court proceedings brought by the CFMEU against MPR - "Were you aware you were being paid less than you should have been, would you have been happy to have been paid more?"

Mr Stoljar objected to the line of questioning and the Commissioner noted the fact of the Federal Court proceedings.

Mr Agius states his questions are not related to the civil action, he states he wants to know whether or not Mr Spatolisano's employer disclosed to him that he was covered by a CFMEU EBA.  Note the apportioning of responsibililty onto the Employer, not the CFMEU's members being advised by their union.  Why?   Because the CFMEU didn't give a stuff about its members, only its own income.

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At 10.57 Mr Agius completed the cross - Mr Morrison for the MBA et al cross examines.

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Morison, "Is it fair to say that you had no idea what an EBA was, it may as well have been Martians talking about stuff from planet Mars?"

The witness, "Yes that's fair enough, I had no idea."

Mr Morison has painted the picture very clearly with the help of this witness that the proporietor Mr Josifoski paid the union dues (by reimbursement to the employees) of each employee's purported CFMEU union dues. As Morison puts it "The union was syphoning money from your account and Mr Josifoski your boss was reimbursing you for the money taken by the union."

This witness is very clear in agreeing with the proposition that he had no idea about an EBA, had never heard of one, didn't want to be a member of the CFMEU, hadn't properly agreed to be one, didn't himself pay union dues and was happy with his pay and conditions provided by Mr Josifoski - Morison, "You were quite content with your employment with Mr Josifoski?'

"Yeah, absolutely."

At 11.04 Mr Spatolisano was excused.

The next witness is Bernard da Silva.

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Mr Da Silva is the owner of B & M Scaffolding Pty Ltd.

He has made two witness statements which have been adopted and tendered into evidence with objections noted.

Mr Da Silva has an extensive history in many aspects of constructions including labour hire.

The essence of a lengthy examination by Mr Stoljar is that Mr Da Silva, with 20 years experience in construction states that he sees no value in EBAs with the CFMEU, however he felt such pressure to sign one that he eventually caved in, signed the document, paid the money and was "left alone". 

He states none of the other scaffolding companies was happy about entering into an EBA, likewise employees who couldn't give a stuff, it was just a "cost of doing business" if you didn't want "The CFMEU coming out on site and making life difficult".


At noon the Commission resumed

Detailed examination by Mr Stojlar continues.

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 At 12.05 Mr Stoljar finished.   Mr Morrison is now cross examining.

In one sentence Mr Morison sums up the preceding hour or so from Mr Stoljar, "Signing up to the CFMEU EBA was just a commercial decision, you wanted to be able to do business and this was just a cost, a necessary thing to do in order to do business in Canberra, is that right?"

Mr Da Silva, "Yes that's right."

AT 12.12 THE COMMISSION INTERJECTED - "Mr Morrison, do you mind if I adjourn for a few minutes, there's something urgent I need to attend to".

Mr Stoljar's face says it all:

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At 12.20 the Commission resumed.

Mr Morrison is enumerating the extent of the CFMEU's "collateral" income arising from the various provisions of its EBAs.

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Morison to Da Silva, "Were you aware the CFMEU received $600,000 in donations in 2013?"


At 12.25 Mr Slevins rose to advance the interests of his model client the CFMEU.

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US top general Dempsey, Chairman joint chiefs of staff advised strongly against lifting Iran sanctions

What would the US's top general know about the dangers of arming Ayatollahs with ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads?   Obama will have a press release to beat them when the time comes.......


Senator Kelly Ayotte asked, "I know when you appeared before the committee on July 7th. I was actually the person who asked you about -- there had been floated some views in the press at that time that Iran was pushing for lifting of the resolution on ballistic missiles and the resolution of arms, which we now know are in the agreement at five years and eight years. Just to be clear, when you came before the committee then, you said under no circumstances should we relieve pressure on Iran on those issues. So was it your military recommendation that we not agree to lifting of those sanctions?"

"Yes," said Dempsey, "and I used the phrase as long as possible and then that was the point at which the negotiation continued. But yes, that was my military advice."

3rd person arrested over TURC Canberra hearings - now for the same policing enthusiasm in Melbourne

The Australian today with this report of the arrest of Tuungafasi Manase:

Third unionist arrested over Canberra royal commission hearings

 A witness at the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption has been arrested in Canberra, and charged with perjury.

Tuungafasi Manase, a Canber­ra formworker, was arreste­d by ACT Police last night and charged with giving false or misleading evidence to the commission. It was the third set of criminal charges to arise from the proceedings in Canberra in as many weeks, and the first for ­perjury flowing from the royal commission.

Mr Manase is an associate of Fihi Kivalu, the former construct­ion union official who was ­arrested and charged with blackmail in the first week of a series of ACT hearings this month.

The commission heard evidenc­e that Mr Manase was involv­ed with Mr Kivalu’s alleged blackmailing of formwork company owner Elias Taleb. During Mr Manase’s testimony, counsel assisting the commission Richard Scruby asked: “You don’t know anything about money that Mr Taleb owes Mr Kivalu?”

Mr Manase replied: “No, not — no.”

Mr Scruby also asked: “Did you come here to tell the truth?”

Mr Manase said: “Yes”. Later, commissioner Dyson Heydon warned him about perjury.

Mr Manase denied writing a list of names tendered into evidence of other companies that alleged­ly owed Mr Kivalu money.

Mr Heydon then asked Mr Manase­ to submit to a handwriting test from the witness chair.

Last week, former Canberra Raiders rugby league player and construction union organiser John Lomax was arrested and charged with blackmail. The federal police taskforce linked to the commission also made an arrest in Queensland last year.


You have to wonder at the speed and apparent urgency in the 3 Canberra arrests compared to the apparent lack of progress on some pretty clear cut false evidence given to the Commission elsewhere.

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Just two weeks ago on 14 July 2014 Mr Manase appeared at the TURC - here's our report from the day

The next witness Mr Manase has been sworn on the Bible.   Counsel Assisting Mr Scuby will be conducting this examination.

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Mr Manase works in concrete formwork.   He was shown a document which Counsel Assisting suggests contain Mr Manase's handwriting - Mr Manase denies it's his handwriting.

He was quizzed about the debt collector Mr Paterson.  He states that Mr Paterson is his cousin, he states that he is not a debt collector, he's a director of a catering company.   He doesn't know whether or not Mr Paterson has an office.

Mr Scruby, "Is Mr Paterson in the hearing room today?"

Manase, "Yes he is."

Scruby, "Isn't it the case that you told Mr Taleb that Mr Paterson was collecting a debt Mr Taleb owed to Fihi?"

Manase, "No."

Mr Manase was shown an Exhibit bearing handwriting- he denies it's his handwriting.

The Commissioner read Mr Manase an extract from the Royal Commissions Act Sect 6 setting out the punishment on conviction for giving false evidence - 5 years gaol.

Mr Manase was given the opportunity to change his evidence.   He states it's not his handwriting on the Exhibit.

The Commissioner directed that the witness be given a piece of paper and a biro - the Commissioner then asked the witness to take dictation.   The witness was directed to write down precisely what the Commissioner said, he read out the words and numerals on the contentious piece of paper and Mr Manase duly wrote the words down.

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Mr Scruby, "Are you trying to protect Mr Paterson or Fihi today?"

MANASE, "no"

At 12.31 Mr Manase was excused.