You are here

Dismissal of charges against Bob Carnegie

(This article has been created from a comment posted on candobetter because it contains important industrial relations news.) Update, 09:33AM, 18 Aug 2013: Irish MP Clare Daly has tweeted "Well done to Bob Carnegie & the CFMEU for their historic victory for trade unionists in Australia, ..."

The ABC reported at 1.20PM today, followed by Brisbane's Courier Mail and The Australian that "Contempt of Court" charges against Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) organiser Bob Carnegie were dismissed by Federal Court Magistrate in Brisbane.

For more information, see "Fellow workers, comrades – case dismissed. WE WON!" of 16 Aug 2013 on Bob Carnegie Defence Campaign at

The charges arose as a result of Bob Carnegie attempting to enforce a picket line at the Children's Hospital then under construction in Brisbane against an attempt by the anti-union employer AbiGroup to deny union rights to workers working there.

This is a monumental win for Australian trade unions, whose rights have been eroded since former Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser criminalised much trade union activity with his Sections 45D and 45E of the Trade Practises Act. Under the legislation, it became a criminal offence for workers to take industrial action against an employer other than their own. So, action by workers in one workplace in solidarity with another work place was forbidden.

Former PM Malcolm Fraser, whose Sections 45D and 45E of the Trade Practices Act criminalised industrial action by workers in support of other workers

Incidentally, Malcolm Fraser, in recent years, has made great efforts to have himself depicted in the media as a "bleeding heart" friend of refugees,1 2.

Vietnamese refugees were also used to undermine trade union militancy, particularly in the Melboune Postal exchange, where many were employed.

The 'Labor' Governments of Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, which ruled Australia from 1983 until 1996 and began the transformation of Australia into a neoliberal "free market" economy, chose not to repeal these laws. As a result, Liberal Prime Minister John Howard attempted to break the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) in 1998 having little fear that other unions would give effective industrial support to the MUA.

Fortunately, a determined campaign by the Australian community, including the families of seafarers and wharfies, defeated Howard's attempt to break the union. It was also helped by a the New Zealand Seafarers' Union refusing to work on on a ship which had been loaded by scab labour.

Sadly, as recorded in The Latham Diaries (2005) collaboration by unconscionable Labor politicians, including the current Australian foreign Minister Bob Carr, enabled John Howard to rort his way back into office in 1998, 2001 an 2004.

Following his 2004 election, John Howard made another attempt to break the trade unions when he introduced his "Work Choices" legislation, for which he had obtained no electoral mandate, into Federal Parliament. He then spent $124 million of taxpayers' money on propaganda campaign to promote "Work Choices". 3

Fortunately, the "Your rights at work" campaign of the trade union movement made it difficult fro ruthless employers to take advantage of these laws and helped to swing public opinion so decisively against John Howard that he not only lost government in the 2007 elections, but also lost his own seat of Wentworth to Labor Party candidate Maxine McKew

Update, 16 August: "case dismissed," but fight not entirely over

"Fellow workers, comrades – case dismissed. WE WON!" of 16 Aug 2013 :


The fight isn’t entirely over, as Bob still faces a civil case brought against him by Abigroup, but today’s news is a huge victory.

We’ll post more news and reaction later, but for now, a huge thank you to all our supporters across the world who’ve helped keep up the pressure and maintain the profile of the campaign.


1 As an example, see Malcolm Fraser on Coalition asylum plans: no limits to the inhumanity in the Guardian of 16 Aug 2013.

2 One example is refugees from Vietnam. Prior to 1975, these Vietnamese refugees had sided with occupying Australian and American military forces in the war against their own people (and, before that, the French colonists and Japanese occupiers). During the war, much of the country was destroyed as bombs with the explosive capacity equivalent to 640 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs were dropped on Vietnam (in addition what was dropped on neighbouring Laos and Cambodia) and much of the Vietnamese jungle was destroyed with "Agent Orange" defoliant sprayed from above. Nick Turse, author of Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam (1913) estimates that 2.3 million Vietnamese civilians died in the war and 5.3 million were wounded.

After the 'South' Vietnamese American puppet regime of was defeated in 1975, many of those who had supported it fled to Australia as refugees. Here they were welcomed with open arms by the then Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser. As Minister for the Army after 1966 and as Minister for Defence from 1969 until 1971, he had conscripted Australians into the Army and sent them to fight in defence of the South Vietnamese dictatorship. After the refugees arrived, they formed an electoral bloc of support for Malcolm Fraser. With their help, he was able to stay in office until 1983.

3 This is described in Mark Latham's political gift to John Howard of 20 Nov 2007 by James Sinnamon. Sadly, Latham acted no better in 2007 than those of which he was rightly critical in The Latham Diaries. He actually opposed the trade union movement's "Your Rights at Work" campaign against "Work Choices" and called on Australians to vote for John Howard.


The CFMEU have been critical of government immigration policies, and the erosion of the right to jobs for Australians - jobs created by our economy that should go to Australians.

CFMEU have exposed the fact that more than than 191,000 people on the 457 temporary work (skilled) visas were here as of June 30, a jump of 18 per cent since last year.

There was also a similar rise in the number of people on working holiday visas to 160,500 over the same period, according to new Immigration Department data.

CFMEU construction division national secretary Dave Noonan said: "Clearly, there's a significant number of employers that are more focused on getting overseas temporary labour in place rather than offering jobs and apprenticeship opportunities to young Australians."

Why would a "Labor" government destroy the job opportunities for Australians at a time of rising unemployment, and austere conditions? They have betrayed their traditional values for the benefit of big businesses who want cheap, compliant and flexible foreign labour - many of whom will apply for Permanent Residence.

Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union fear on jobs as temporary visa workers keep coming

While the "immigration" debate rests on asylum seekers, the foreign invasion that people see as a growing problem, legal immigration keeps increasing and goes largely unnoticed.

At least the CFMEU, a union that our government would rather not exist, are exposing the immigration rorts.

The latest figures show that there were 1.66 million temporary entrants in Australia on June 30, compared with 1.63 million a year ago.

This includes 640,000 New Zealanders on special temporary visas, 304,000 overseas students and 200,000 overseas visitors.

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser has, in recent weeks, spoken up to defend Syria against the terrorist proxy war funded by the United States and its allies and plans for direct invasion. This is contrary to the propaganda fed to the public by the mainstream media and government leaders such as former Prime Miniter Kevin Ruddd, former Foreign Minister Bob Carr and the current Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop. Examples include:

  • In the Central Midlands and Coastal Advocate of 25 Sep 2013
  • Malcolm Fraser: Syria attack 'illegal' of 25 Sep 2013 on the SBS
  • An open letter on war to the new PM in the Sydney Morning Morning Herald of 14 Sep 2013. Letter was also signed by:
    • Paul Barratt AO, former secretary, Department of Defence
    • John Menadue AO, former secretary, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet
    • Malcolm Fraser, former Liberal prime minister
    • Professor Ian Maddocks AM, Senior Australian of the Year
    • Professor Peter Baume AC, former federal Liberal minister
    • Garry Woodard, retired ambassador
    • Professor Ramesh Thakur, former UN assistant secretary-general
    • Elizabeth Evatt AC, former judge
    • Kellie Merritt, widow of Flight Lieutenant Paul Pardoel, who was killed in Iraq

So, it seems my ridicule of Malcolm Fraser's "efforts to have himself depicted in the media as a 'bleeding heart' friend of refugees" was unfair. Other concerns about his political record still remain. These include his role in the 1975 CIA coup against the government of Gough Whitlam in 1975 and his Sections 45D and 45E of the Trade Practices Act which have criminalised "secondary boycotts" or industrial action by one group of workers in support of another group of workers.In spite of theses concerns, Malcolm Fraser has demonstrated, by his support of Syria that he is prepared to use his public profile to oppose war and defend humanitarian values.

You forgot to mention also that Fraser started the appalling dismantling of our laws that protected Australian interests from foreign takeover and Australian housing from foreign purchase. I have never been impressed by Fraser's stance on refugees because of his lack of support for the citizens of his own country, (which appeared at the time as contempt) whose disempowerment he has helped to orchestrate - "Life wasn't meant to be easy." I do not think that Fraser would approve of the Syrian government's defense of public assets and public banking. In my opinion, Fraser's charity is an arms length job that leap-frogs over Australians. The pursuit of 'human rights' over civil rights defeats human rights and local empowerment. Australia is particularly poor in civil rights. In Fraser's pursuit of charity at arm's length he is like so many of our 'modern' politicians and his attitude aligns with the increasingly distant and authoritarian structure of government here. I am afraid that his rehabilitation in recent years by the Fairfax and Murdoch Press inspires me with suspicion that his 'brand' is useful for ongoing undemocratic processes.

My sources on this are to be found at The Growth Lobby and its Absence, pp 191-195, in the chapter entitled "Australia's return to a populationist development and housing policy under the Fraser Government." I cite it here without the endnotes, which you can find in the above linked pdf file. It is a testimony to the unraveling of Australian civil rights, self-government and ownership of assets in favour of a globalised market economy that disenfranchises us all. (By the way, the term 'populationist' comes from the French 'populationniste' and means a person who is for populating, i.e. growing population. The socialist alliance forces that promote high population growth in Australia continuously misuse the term to mean its opposite.)

"Australia's return to a populationist development and housing policy under the Fraser Government.

After the Whitlam government was sacked, and during high unemployment, the Fraser
Liberal/National Party government (November 1975- March 1983) reinstituted
economic policies that were dependent on rapid population growth - through high
immigration - and high energy consumption.

Whitlam's concept and attempts to create a system of feedback loops from population to
housing were dismantled or under-financed. Prime Minister Fraser abolished DURD
very early in his government, under which Federal funding for urban and regional
development declined by 86 per cent. 178 He also began to liberalise the foreign
investment rules, with the Foreign Takeovers Act (1975).

In Whitlam's time foreign investment had been less than 10%, but it increased steadily
after 1975. Between 1980 and 1981 there was the "highest capital inflow on record."
Much of this was for loans to State governments for infrastructure projects, but after
1980 more and more was borrowed by private firms with an ever greater part going to
property development. By 1985-86 services, tourism, real-estate and property
development were responsible for over fifty per cent of incoming capital and real-estate
was the biggest borrower.

The Australian housing industry continued speculative land development and reliance
on high immigration to feed population growth and thus demand, with little central
planning. As the economy was opened up to the ideology of free market forces,
speculation and housing price inflation increased. However, from 1974-1986 economic
recession affected the housing industry.

Government policies assisting home ownership were identified as an impediment to
economic growth by, among others, a group that included the Australian Treasury, 182
over which Federal Treasurer Philip Lynch had presided until 1977, when he was
sacked for involvement in Victorian land speculation scandals. Land scandals were not
confined to Victoria, however. An example of political corruption and land speculation,
with the demise of DURD and the Whitlam Government, occurred when the Liberal
West Australian Minister for Industrial Development, Sir Charles Court, bailed out
property developer, Alan Bond 183 by purchasing a property that Bond had been trying
for years to get rezoned but which had been destined, with the co-operation of the
previous WA Labor Government, under the Federal department, DURD, to remain a
green corridor. Instead of leaving Bond with his unrezoned rural property, Court used
DURD funds to purchase the property from Bond. Bond subsequently donated $20,000
to the Liberals' 1977 election campaign. Soon after Sir Charles Court raised $250,000
in a syndicate to finance Bond's America's Cup venture.

The ALP West Australian Government that followed on from the Liberal one was no
better. It formed a corrupt network with WA land speculators which was subsequently
to be known as "WA Inc." The Premier involved in this was Brian Burke and he was
later imprisoned for corruption.

The members of the Australian Treasury group wanted a reduction in all forms of
housing assistance. They also called for the freeing up of the housing market to market
forces, without interference from subsidies or regulated industry rates. They blamed
government regulation for keeping the cost of home ownership unrealistically low,
inflating ownership expectations and leading to people owning too many houses. 186
In response to lobbying, 187 immigration began to climb again from 1979 and remained
high until 1982.

As well as dismantling Whitlam's urban and rural development system, the Fraser
Government commenced the first of a long series of steps to dismantle the free tertiary
education system. It thereby reduced that avenue for Australia to increase its skilled
and tertiary educated workforce, leaving industry few options but to import new skilled
workers. The structure and finance of the industry meant that support for developing a
local system to provide skilled tradesmen remained weak and unorganised. Thus the
industry continued its strong reliance on imported skilled labour. As the economy was
opened up to the ideology of free market forces, speculation and housing price inflation
increased, with strong encouragement from the Australian Treasury.

This section on Australia's return to a populationist development and housing policy
under the Fraser government illustrates my argument that in countries where a highly
profitable property development and residential construction industry dominates,
individual firms may be more inclined than government assisted housing systems to
access international loans in order to finance continued expansion. Furthermore a
deregulated financial environment will assist the strategy of borrowing to finance

This chapter has examined evidence for the hypothesis that Australia had followed a
cornucopian route and France a Malthusian one after the oil crash. My evidence
consisted largely of indicators of policy and practice related to per capita and industrial
energy consumption, principally in the building industry and the production of
dwellings. I situated these indicators within the context of the different land
development and housing systems in Australia and France and showed how the first
relied on immigration but the latter did not. I gave evidence that both countries had
temporarily reduced immigration at the time of the first oil shock for energy saving and
economic reasons, but that the fall of the Whitlam government had brought an end to
these politics in Australia and ushered in a high conventional energy using expansionist
period with fast population growth. I attributed this growthist course in Australia
largely to a populationist lobby in which property developers and residential
construction companies were important actors. I explained the ability of France to
consolidate its population and energy use to the absence of such a lobby.

There are, however, other possible explanations for the difference between immigration
policies in France and Australia that have resulted in a higher migration intake in
Australia. For example there is, arguably, a stronger ethnic lobby in Australia than in
France and this lobby is able to press for extended family reunion. Because Australia
has an active immigrant recruitment intake, it is difficult to justify a small humanitarian
intake. A multiculturalist approach to new settlers, rather than an integrationist approach
may favour the development of ethnic lobbies and the establishment of distinct
communities with a variety of motives for expansion. These explanations have not
been explored here but that is not to say that they and others I have not mentioned, have
no value. Nevertheless, the evidence pointing to a very important role for the property
development lobby in driving immigration is strong.

The next chapter looks at how the immigrationist policies I have described continued in
Australia and argues that the focused gains for the property development and housing
industries from high immigration may have been enhanced by increasing recourse to
foreign finance and globalisation of the property market. It then looks at the impacts on
housing prices and the increasing profits at stake in the growthist economy for property
developers and builders and compares these outcomes with those in France, in the
absence of an immmigration dependent property industry."