TURC hearing into CFMEU officials and their apparent destruction of evidence subject to TURC's Notices to Produce
Monday, 21 September 2015
AT 2PM the Commission commenced its hearing, former National President of the CFMEU Dave Hanna in the witness box.
Ms McNaughton opened by having Mr Hanna confirm the names of each office holder in the hierarchy of the CFMEU construction division up to and including its National Secretary Dave Noonan and national President, then Hanna himself.
Ms McNaughton asked Mr Hanna if he recalled the announcement of the establishment, issue of Letters Patent and settling of the Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission of Enquiry into Trade Union Governance and Corruption.
He didn't. She reminded him of the relevant dates in March/April 2014 - and the serving by the Commission of Notices to Produce documents and other things to the CFMEU at about that time.
Very directly, Ms McNaughton asked Mr Hanna if he was aware of the destruction of any documents relating to the CFMEU at or about that time.
Mr Hanna said that the Notice to Produce came at the same time as the effective date of the merger of the BLF and CFMEU in Queensland. Hanna states that as a result of the merger, a tip truck full of documents and other material was taken from the CFMEU/BLF offices and was transported to Hanna's personal property, his home. Eventually the material was taken to a tip "out Ipswich way".
Hanna states that he can recall that the tip truck trip was definitely in March 2014. How does he know that, well he can't say, but he's sure of the date.
AT ABOUT 2.20 THE COMMISSION ADJOURNED BRIEFLY TO ATTEND TO SOME AUDIO RELATED ISSUES - AT 2.25 THE COMMISSION RESUMED WITH ITS AUDIO NOW APPARENTLY READY TO GO
Mr Hanna now recalls the shredding of documents at the new CFMEU offices. "Boxes and boxes" were brought up, many documents were shredded.
Ms McNaughton said, 'What date did that all take place?"
Hanna, "I'm sure it was in March."
McNaughton, "If I told you that the Notice to Produce was issued to the CFMEU on 1 April 2014 would that help you to remember the timing of the destruction or disposal of those documents?"
Hanna, "It was definitely all done in March".
McNaughton, "And did you ever discuss the Comnission's Notice to Produce with any person?"
Hanna sensed impending danger, doubts for the first time in his demeanour, words and voice.
McNaughton, "Have you ever said to anyone that you knew that the material was relevant to the Notice to Produce?"
Hanna says no. he states that the decision about which documents were destroyed or disposed of was made by Nichael Ravbar.
Hanna describes quite an elaborate operation involving the boxes of documents over several days.
Several trailer loads (in this case the trailer was a horse float) of documents were taken to Hanna's house over several days. Michael Ravbar directed that prior to some documents leaving the CFMEU office, they were to be shredded - and that shredding was apparently carried out.
Other material was placed into boxes and transported to Hanna's house to be burnt - yet more material was taken to the Hanna house in preparation for a separate further journey taken by a tip truck to the unnamed tip "somewhere near Ipswich".
All of the movements and treatment of the disposed material was undertaken on Mr Hanna's account during normal working hours. He answers Ms McNaughton's question about who was present by staring into space then giving 3 female Christian names and two job description titles.
At 2.42 Mr Hanna was asked to stand down from the witness box but to remain in the Commission's hearing room.
Ms McNaughton called Leo Skourdoumbis.
Mr Skourdoumbis is an Assistant National Secretary of the CFMEU.
He states that during the course of his investigation of a separate matter involving Mr Hanna and while conducting a formal interview with Mr Hanna, Hanna informed him that documents had been destroyed by the CFMEU at a time relevant to this hearing of the Royal Commission.
Skourdoumbis, "I was interviewing Mr Hanna at the Qantas Club at Brisbane Airport, during that interview he said 'Michael's having a go at me, I'm going to have a go back"
When pressed by Ms McNaughton Skourdoumbis said, "The effect was that documents had been destroyed under Michael Ravbar's authorisation and those documents were then taken away to his (Hanna's) property."
McNaughton, "Well what was wrong with that such that you thought it was part of their power play?"
Skourdoumbis, "Well, I saw it as a swirl or rumours."
Skourdoumbis has not volunteered the link to the Commission's Notice to Produce.
McNaughton, "Was there any suggestion that this was something other than the routine destruction of documents or not, whether they were relevant documents to this Commission, I can't say."
Skourdoumbis did not report the matter internally within the CFMEU. These circumstances to me point towards something picked up on a phone intercept - how else would Skourdoumbis come to be before the Commission? I get the sense that Ms McNaughton won't be revealing the source of whatever intelligence has led to Mr Skourdoumbis's apparently reluctant appearance at the TURC's hearing today. He's not produced any notes and apparently has not been briefed nor made a statement about the matter - strike that, Skourdoumbis now says "I think you've got the notes of my first interview with Mr Hanna."
Skourdoumbis now remembers that Hanna spoke about a receipt or invoice for the truck used in transporting the documents.
Ms McNaughton has given Mr Skourdoumbis about a dozen open questions inviting him to say something about the Notice to Produce and its link to the documents destroyed if any link existed. He's not going to volunteer anything in that regard.
At 3PM Mr Skourdoumbis was stood down, to remain in the hearing room.
Mr Hanna was recalled.
Mr Hanna now recalls that he did have a conversation with Leo Skourdoumbis.
The Commission was played 3 recordings of conversations between Leo Skourdoumbis.
(my apologies for the quality of the audio)
Hanna now says that he was telling the truth in his conversation with Skourdoumbis.
That is to say that Hanna's evidence now is that "all CFMEU paperwork that is relevant to the subpoena, 7 tonnes in total, was removed from the CFMEU offices last the direction of Michael Ravbar ".
Hanna now admits that the material was removed on the same day as the Subpoena or Notice to Produce was served on the CFMEU.
Hanna states that he talked to Michael O'connor about this issue - he says he had discussions with Michael O'Connor in person and he "might" have told O'Connor about the invoices.
Hanna agrees hat a 5 to 7 tonne truck was used to take the documents away from the CFMEU offices on a date later than 1 April 2014, the date on which the Subpoena was served.
Hanna states that Ravbar had all the training coordinators come in and his daughter come in to assist in loading the trailers and "on the shredder" shredding documents.
Hanna states now that the shredding was after 1 April, the horse trailers were on or before that date.
Michelle Two said:
The Commissioner has recited the chronology of the Royal Commission's establishment, an announcement in February from the Government, letters patent shortly after and an operating commencement date in April.
Mr Agius rose to object to Ms McNaughton's line of question and her assumptions regarding the chronology in the issuing and service of the Notice to Produce on the CFMEU.
The NTP was created on 31 March 2014. It was served at 1.50PM on the CFMEU in the CFMEU's West Melbourne offices. Ms McNaughton asked if Mr Hanna, then the CFMEU national president, became aware that the NTP had been served on his union. He states he's not sure.