Court slams ABCC over false "throat slit gesture" claims

Published: 30 Jan 2022

The Federal Court has slammed the ABCC for misrepresenting evidence in court proceedings and a media release which resulted in a CFMEU organiser being falsely accused in national media of making a "throat slitting gesture" on a building site in 2019.

“Here we have further proof of the bias and malice of the ABCC," said Dave Noonan, CFMEU National Construction Secretary.

“The Federal Court slammed the ABCC for misrepresenting evidence which stated that a CFMEU official had signalled to a truck driver to turn off his engine by moving his hand across his throat.”

“Anyone who knows anything about working on a loud and busy construction site knows this is the universal signal for 'shut off the machine'.”

"The Federal Court also found the ABCC’s use of the media to spread the false allegation against the official served as a form of 'extra curial punishment'.”

“What credible independent regulator would use the media in this way?”

“In December 2019 the Australian Financial Review published an article with the headline "Union official made throat slitting gesture" which reported on the allegations contained in the media release published by the ABCC.”

“The AFR eventually published a clarification noting that the official 'has not been accused of making a “throat-slitting gesture” or otherwise threatening any physical harm to the truck driver'.”

“Construction workers have a regulator in the ABCC that devotes itself to running anti-worker propaganda and attacking trade unions while ignoring the widespread illegal behaviour of employers.”

“The Federal Court’s slap down of the ABCC came in the same week the regulator was celebrating having completed 100 court cases since it was reconstituted in 2016.”

“The statistics it released at the time offer a damning insight into the priorities of this twisted regulator, which has hit individual workers with more in fines and penalties than have been levied against employers since 2016.”

“Construction workers who stick up for their rights or fight for fair pay are more likely to be prosecuted and fined by the ABCC than the bosses who are stealing their wages or putting their safety at risk.”

“Since 2016 the ABCC has hit 252 individual workers with $530,800 in fines and penalties, more than the $513,255 imposed on employers.”

“Most of these workers were fined for attending stop-work meetings or participating in industrial action that would not see workers prosecuted in any other industry.”

“Trade unions have been penalised more than $14 million since 2016 and of the one hundred cases, 74 were against the CFMEU and only 13 were against employers.”

“This sham regulator has completed only 3 cases related to wages and entitlements in an industry where wage theft is rife and where the union has recovered tens of millions in wages for workers.”

“The ABCC is irredeemably broken. It is harmful to workers and must be abolished.”