CFMEU boss retains right to walk onto any construction site

CFMEU state secretary Michael Ravbar will retain the right to walk on to any construction site in Queensland despite the militant union racking up almost $1 million in fines under his command.

The Federal Court this week upheld a Fair Work Commission decision last year that granted Mr Ravbar a fresh permit to enter worksites on union business partially because of his "relatively clean record" in 25 years with the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union.

CFMEU members protesting over conditions on Bechtel's Curtis Island projects. 

Photo Luka Kauzlaric / The Observer
CFMEU members protesting over conditions on Bechtel's Curtis Island projects. Photo Luka Kauzlaric / The Observer Luka Kauzlaric

Mr Ravbar, who sits on the Labor Party national executive, was accused of destroying documents sought by the trade union royal commission in 2014 and was recently served with a court summons for allegedly targeting non-union labour on the $1.5 billion Legacy Way project.

He denies those allegations, which have been untested in court and were not in evidence in the permit case.

The construction watchdog also pointed to allegations he "flagrantly" disregarded health and safety regulations on a Curtis Island LNG project in 2012.

The Fair Work Building and Construction Inspectorate, now known as the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner, argued Mr Ravbar was "not a fit and proper person" to hold a permit as the union was fined almost $1 million for industry breaches "on his watch".

In granting Mr Ravbar the permit last year, the Fair Work Commission noted he had only been fined once in his career and "has a relatively clean record". Three Federal Court judges backed that decision.

"The real complaint of the applicant (the ABCC) is that the Commission did not attach the same weight to the conduct (of Mr Ravbar) that the applicant attached to it," the judgment read.

An ABCC spokeswoman said the agency was "considering the decision".

CFMEU national secretary Dave Noonan said the ABCC had "a clear ideological agenda to attack the union and its officials". He called on the ABCC to reveal how much taxpayers' money was spent on the case, which went to court three times.

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