||Issue No. 167||21 February 2003|
Scales of Injustice
Interview: Agenda 2003
Peace: The Colour Purple
Industrial: Long, Hot Summer
Solidarity: Workers Against War
Security: Howard And The Hoodlums
International: Industrial Warfare
History: Unions and the Vietnam War
Review: Eight Miles to Mowtown
Poetry: Return To Sender
Satire: CIA Recruits New Intake of Future Enemies
The Locker Room
Who Let The Troops Out?
Wagga Wagga Calling
Ode to Johnny
Cole Commission: The Rort Goes On
The Attorney Generalís office has knocked back bills from the three-person legal team that represented around 40 individuals before the Commission, after the unionís NSW branch was denied representation.
The news comes seven days after Senate Estimates revealed that Commission lawyers had carved up $21 million from the public purse.
The Cole Commission doled out million-dollar payments to at least two individuals who led the anti-union crusade. The hauls of John Agius, QC, ($1.489 million); Lionel Robberds, QC, ($1.25 million) and Nicholas Green, QC, (944,000), topped a list of a dozen Commission legal reps who each got more than $500,000 for their efforts.
At the same time, the Federal Attorney General's office is baulking at legal aid accounts, understood to total around $200,000, for lawyers who represented union officials, employees and members.
It is, apparently, prepared to pay only one, rather than three lawyers, for the duration of the second Sydney hearings. It will meet that lawyer's costs at legal aid rates, for eight hours each sitting day, although lawyers often worked double that time.
On some occassions, hearings themselves began at 9am and went through until 8pm. At no stage of the Sydney hearings did the Commission have fewer than 11 legal representatives ranged against the three-person union team.
Senior Counsel representing the Commission pulled down $3800 a day, plus thousands of dollars in expenses. The legal aid rate for solicitors, by comparison, is about $1100 a day.
Taylor and Scott senior partner, David Coleman, accused the Federal Government of "blatant double standards".
"The way it stands all the union representatives will be left out of pocket," he said.
"Senior Counsel Steve Crawshaw is owed a great deal of money, even at much lower rates than Commission Counsel received. Ian Latham is owed money and this company is owed money.
"They have told us they will only meet Counsel's fees for half the Sydney hearings. The solicitor was expected to carry the rest of the workload by himself.
"They paid our first bill but all the rest have been queried.
"Bearing in mind the inequality in representation, this is just ridiculous."
Meanwhile, the Task Force set up as a result of Cole's First Report and headed by Federal policeman Nigel Hadgkiss, has shown its true colours, bringing prosecutions against CFMEU officials in Sydney and Melbourne.
The Task Force has laid two counts against Sydney-based organiser, Joe Brsic, over a stoppage at Sutherland Hospital. The case has already been before the IRC where workers health and safety arguments were vindicated.
Melbourne official, John Setka, is being pursued over his role in the Victorian branch's stand-off with Grocon, also resolved after IRC involvement.
Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Abbott, involved himself in the Melbourne wrangle, backing company moves to register a non-union agreement and resist family-friendly provisions signed off on by all other major construction employers in the state.
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