Saturday, 28 October 2017

The perception that Turnbull & Co are conducting a political witch hunt is not going to go away anytime soon

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, media release, 27 October 2017:

Timetable set for Federal Court action on unprecedented raids

A court timetable has been set in the AWU’s fight to challenge the validity of this week’s unprecedented police raids launched by the Registered Organisations Commission (ROC) on the union’s Sydney and Melbourne offices.

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, who are representing the AWU, said today that court orders confirming a timetable for the case had been agreed to by all parties, removing the need for a Federal Court directions hearing that had been scheduled for this morning in Melbourne.

Maurice Blackburn Principal Josh Bornstein said critically that the orders were made together with commitments from both the ROC and AFP that no documents seized in this week’s raids by the AFP will be handed over to the ROC until the court has heard the case.

Mr Bornstein said the union's case compromised two key parts, namely: 
That the raid conducted by the AFP was illegal; and
That the investigation by the ROC is illegal because it is politically motivated.

“Prior to these raids, the union had handed over disclosure statements from 10 years ago in relation to Get Up donations to the ROC, but in doing so had pressed the regulator to provide it with information about the political interference by the Turnbull government in this matter.

“Disturbingly, the ROC has refused to hand over all file notes of its communications with Minister Cash and her office and we  will continue to seek all such documents as part of the federal court case,” he said.

Under the agreed timetable evidence must be obtained from all parties next month, with the respondents required to file their defence by 1 December 2017. A substantive hearing will be held in December at a date to be set, following the filing of defences.


In 2015 the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption considered matters relating to seven unions, one of which was the Australian Workers Union (AWU).

AWU activity during the years 2003-2010 were examined by the Royal Commission, including financial records which would have included donations by AWU to outside organisations/groups, including the $100k donation to the activist groupGetUp!

No evidence appears to have been presented during Commission hearings relating to GetUp! or to the 2006 AWU donation to this group and, there were no adverse findings made against Bill Shorten in the Commission's December 2015 Final Report.

As far as I’m aware a reporting unit such as the Australian Workers Union New South Wales Branch or Australian Workers Victorian Branch is only legally obliged to hold records for 7 years and it appears Ms. Cash was ignoring the fact that a) there was no obligation to supply her with this so-called evidence and b) these documents could have been lawfully disposed of anytime after 2013 if the union had so decided.

On 20 October 2017 in response to Senator Cash’s referral ROC began an investigation into the AWU.

Despite that fact ROC applied for search warrants for AWU branch offices in Sydney and Melbourne and these were issued before 10am on 24 October 2017.

The Australian Federal Police scheduled what it thought was an unpublicized search late on the afternoon of 24 October 2017.

Police were greeted outside the union offices by an assorted collection of mainstream print and television media who had been alerted to the time and place of the ‘raid’ by Senator Cash’s office.

An unknown number of union records were removed by the police.

Financial Review, excerpt from Media leaks about AFP AWU raids a disaster for Turnbull, Cash and government, 26 October 2017:

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