The CFMMEU and two of its Tasmanian officials have been penalised $221,000 after the Federal Court found they had contravened right of entry laws and intimidated staff at a Hobart construction site in 2019.
The findings of the Court were that:
CFMMEU official Richard Hassett had unlawfully entered the project site at 80 Elizabeth Street on 23 and 28 May 2019. Mr Hassett had not held a valid federal right of entry permit since December 2018.
On 28 May 2019, CFMMEU official Kevin Harkins acted in an improper manner by being loud and intimidating towards the head contractor’s staff when he said:
“Don’t get smart with me a***hole. I’m almost at the end of my career I don’t give a f**ck what happens to me…”
Mr Harkins told Tasmanian Police officers that Mr Hassett was authorised to enter the site despite not having a federal right of entry permit.
The Federal Court in its judgment said of Mr Hassett’s actions:
“Mr Hassett must have known that it was unlawful for him to enter the Project as he did on 23 and 28 May 2019 seeking to exercise entry rights without a permit.
It follows that the contraventions were deliberate and serious. Mr Hassett is also a recidivist.”
The Court went on to state:
“Mr Hassett’s conduct was also flagrant. He knew that he was not permitted to enter the Project for the (health and safety) reasons he gave; he was reminded that he was not so permitted; yet he insisted (among other things) that the idea that he was not allowed on site was “bullshit” (the term he used on 23 May) and that he could (as he put it on 28 May) “do whatever [he] fucking like[d]”.
In referring to Mr Harkin’s conduct the Court said:
Mr Harkins self-evidently acted in an improper way within the meaning of s 500. It is obviously improper for a person holding an entry permit and entering a site under the guise of health and safety concerns to behave as follows:
(a) acting in a loud and intimidating manner toward Mr Brown, the Site foreman, when asked what safety equipment was unsafe, and saying to him words to the effect of “don’t get smart with me, arsehole. I’m nearly at the end of my career. I don’t give a fuck about what happens to me, but that bloke over there will be onto you [pointing to Mr Hassett]”;
(b) responding to a request to identify safety breaches with “you don’t fucking pay me, so I’m not going to tell you”; and
(c) responding to Mr Baynes asking him (Mr Harkins) to leave by telling Mr Baynes to “get fucked”.