||Issue No. 145||19 July 2002|
Two Wings Flapping
Interview: In The Tent
Bad Boss: The Desk Nazi
Media: Hold the Presses
Workplace: Putting Bullies In Their Place
Industrial: Women and Work
International: Whine and Dine
History: Black Adder
Review: Bad Movie
Poetry: I Remember
The Locker Room
Week in Review
Hooray for Frank!
Reform or Die
The Royal Circus
I was recently called to defend my position as a union organiser at the Cole Royal Commission (Royal Circus). This is my first experience in any Royal Commission.
I was shocked to find that statements and evidence given was of such a poor standard it would not have been accepted at a normal court, industrial commission or at the Chief Magistrates Court (CIM). People would say anything at all with no witness or supporting evidence.
The old tale of not letting the truth get in the way of a good story.
Commissioner Cole even helped give evidence and assistance to Mr. G. Campbell (employer who gave statement involving myself) in the evidence box. The only trouble was the story Cole was telling was not the truth.
This circus is not interested in fraud, tax evasion/ minimization or any of the problems that we know and see every day in the building industry. Not interested in security of payment to subcontracts. We have had two Royal Commissions into the building industry in 10 years and the most serious issues have not been addressed!
For example, Mr Pyers from the Housing Industry Association said in evidence
"Are you able to tell the Commissioner what proportion of members of the Housing Industry associations in New South Wales and the ACT pay their employees strictly in accordance with relevant awards?
-I wouldn't be able to give you an exact percentage in relation to that. A significant portion, if not the vast majority, of our members build single dwelling houses and those who operate in what might be described as the housing sector of the industry certainly pay their employees on an independent contractor basis. But I would be unable to assist in relation to the exact percentage who pay in terms of awards.
This is tax fraud and evading employees statutory entitlements!
The likely amount that employers in the cottage industry in Australia are defrauding the taxation department is approximately one billion dollars a year.
I included Mr Pyers evidence in my statement to the Circus and asked the counsel assisting if he wished to ask me any questions about Mr Pyers evidence. Dr Collins (counsel assisting) shook his head in the negative.
The only real conclusion I could come to as a result of this experience is that the Royal Circus is not interested in tax fraud, tax minimization, or trying to solve the problems associated with the building industry. Rather it is an $80 million exercise to deregister the CFMEU or endeavor to get parliament to pass legislation making it very difficult for a union to operate.
* Terry Kesby is a CFMEU Organiser. He organizes in the "off site" area - workplaces such as joineries and glass factories. This is his first article for Workers Online.
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