||Issue No. 182||13 June 2003|
The Dead Couple
History: Nest of Traitors
Interview: A Nation of Hope
Unions: National Focus
Safety: The Shocking Truth
Tribute: A Comrade Departed
History: Working Bees
Education: The Big Picture
International: Static Labour
Economics: Budget And Fudge It
Technology: Google and Campaigning
Review: Secretary With A Difference
Poetry: The Minimale
Satire: Howard Calls for Senate to be Replaced by Clap-O-Meter
The Locker Room
Cole Batting Zero from Thirty Two
Task Force director, Nigel Hadgkiss, confirmed that after investigations by his officers not one of the cases referred by Building Industry Commissioner Terence Cole had been forwarded to prosecuting authorities.
"It's true to say the majority will not be proceeding," Hadgkiss told Workers Online. "We have been unable to get the necessary evidence to proceed and that's for a number of reasons."
When pressed on how many referrals from Cole's interim report might survive the evidentiary cull, Hadgkiss responded "very few".
The establishment of the Building Industry Task Force, employing 41 people including 21 former police officers and at least five lawyers, has been controversial from day one.
The CFMEU based a "bias" claim against Royal Commissioner Terence Cole on the fact that he called for its establishment before he had completed hearing evidence.
The significance of the 32 referred cases was underlined at a Senate Estimates hearing in Canberra, earlier this month.
Department of Employment and Workplace Relations official, Barbara Bennett, appearing alongside Hadgkiss, told senators the Cole referrals were behind the Task Force's existence.
"The matters referred to Nigel just after the establishment of the task force are referred to in the royal commission's first report," she said. "They were part of the reasons why he (the Royal Commissioner) asked that the interim task force be established - to maintain some law and order in the industry pending the establishment of a permanent body and to investigate matters that, at the time, he felt he could not progress."
Bias allegations have now been levelled against the Task Force.
ETU officials in Brisbane have alleged their telephones have been bugged since Hadgkiss' organisation set up shop in the city. They also claimed his staff offered advice and support to hardline employers after enterprise bargaining talks broke down.
Hadgkiss said that, independent of Royal Commission leads, four actions have been instigated since the Task Force opened for business more than six months ago. The target of each, he confirmed, was a trade union. None of these case has yet come before a court.
CFMEU national secretary, John Sutton, said the failure to proceed with any of Cole's 30 original cases was unsurprising.
"We have stated all along that this was a witch hunt," Sutton said. "They are finding what most of us know, that witches are thin on the ground."
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