In April 2001 the Minister for Workplace Relations, Tony Abbott, asked the Employment Advocate to provide a report “regarding behaviour in the building industry”. This led to the Cole Royal Commission into the building and construction industry, costing taxpayers $60 million, making it one of the most expensive in Australia’s history.
The Commission was criticised as ‘politically biased and fanatically anti-union’. The Victorian Council for Civil Liberties noted that the ‘perception of a political agenda was reinforced by the method in which the commission gathered evidence and conducted its investigations’. Of particular concern was the curtailment of the rights to legal representation and cross-examination.
Victorian Secretary of the Construction Division of the CFMEU, Martin Kingham, was charged with contempt after failing to produce requested documents detailing the names and personal details of trade unionists who participated in a union training school.
Mr Kingham maintained that he did not have…
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