CEPU and Official Penalised $27,200 for Unlawful Conduct on Brisbane Construction Site

Key Takeaways

The Communications, Electrical, Electronic, Energy, Information, Postal, Plumbing, and Allied Services Union of Australia (CEPU) and one of its officials, Wendel Moloney, have been subjected to a total financial penalty of $27,200 as a consequence of their involvement in unlawful conduct on a construction site situated in Brisbane. This verdict was rendered by the Federal Circuit and Family Court, subsequent to legal action initiated by the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner (ABCC).

Within the context of this case, the CEPU incurred a financial liability amounting to $24,000, while Mr Wendel Moloney has been assessed a penalty of $3,200. These sanctions stem from breaching a specific right-of-entry provision enshrined in the Fair Work Act, an incident that transpired in December 2021. The site in question pertains to a construction project concerning a residential apartment tower located at 443 Queen Street, Brisbane.

The particular nature of the conduct that culminated in these penalties revolved around Mr. Moloney’s actions during his entry onto the construction site. He notably failed to adhere to the requisite procedure by neglecting to report to the site office as mandated. Furthermore, he did not furnish his entry permit when explicitly requested to do so. Judge Salvatore Vasta, who presided over the case, concluded that the imposition of penalties was not only warranted but crucial to serve as a deterrent against a potential repetition of such misconduct in the future.

It is noteworthy that the responsibility for the handling of this case was officially transferred from the ABCC to the Fair Work Ombudsman in December 2022, an alteration that carried legal significance and procedural implications in the matter’s resolution.

Fair Work Ombudsman Anna Booth articulated the overarching importance of court-imposed penalties in reinforcing the gravity of transgressing right of entry laws. She elucidated, stating, “Enhancing compliance within the building and construction industry stands as a paramount objective for the Fair Work Ombudsman. We remain steadfast in our commitment to investigating non-compliance reports and holding accountable those who flout established legal frameworks.”

While this case initially encompassed allegations against the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining, and Energy Union (CFMMEU) and its official, Matthew Vonhoff, as presented by the ABCC, it is pertinent to note that the said allegations were subsequently discontinued by the Fair Work Ombudsman earlier this year, shifting the primary focus onto the CEPU and Mr Moloney.

The penalties imposed upon the CEPU and Mr Moloney stand as a stark reminder of the imperative necessity of strict adherence to workplace regulations and the prevailing laws, particularly within sectors as vital as construction. The construction industry is subject to a robust framework of rules and standards designed to ensure the safety and equitable treatment of all stakeholders involved.

Furthermore, this case serves as a testament to the resolute commitment of Australian regulatory bodies, including the Fair Work Ombudsman, in upholding the law and safeguarding the rights and interests of workers and employers within the construction sector. It underscores an unyielding stance against violations of workplace regulations and is indicative of the consequences that will be meted out to those found in contravention.