CFMEU takes AFP to court over alleged illegal phone recording leak

Published: 12 Jan 2018

In a matter listed for call-over in the ACT Supreme Court today, the CFMEU will allege that the Australian Federal Police taped a private phone call between a CFMEU official and a former ACT Police Minister’s office, and illegally leaked it to the media.

In early 2015, the CFMEU’s ACT Secretary Dean Hall met with a former Police Minister to raise concerns at the behaviour by the AFP in illegally preventing union officials from entering building sites. A subsequent telephone conversation between Dean Hall and a member of the former Police Minister’s staff was recorded by the AFP. The recording was then leaked to the media, which led to the Minister’s resignation.

The CFMEU believes the AFP illegally leaked the recording, and accordingly requested the Commonwealth Ombudsman investigate the matter. The Ombudsman referred the matter back to the AFP. The AFP has maintained it has an investigation underway. But with no outcome 18 months later, the CFMEU has taken the matter to Court.

While this all occurred during the witch-hunt Heydon Royal Commission, the recorded conversation was never aired during any Commission hearings.

“The CFMEU has grave concerns about the initial leaking of the recorded phone call – which is illegal – and the length of time it is taking for an investigation to occur,” CFMEU National Construction Secretary Dave Noonan said.

“This is a very serious matter, which cost the ACT Police Minister and a member of her staff their jobs. It should not be swept under the carpet.

“What’s more, the ACT Liberals and Employment Minister MIchaelia Cash have used information about this case in the ACT Parliament and the Senate respectively. Their offices should also be scrutinised.

“A year and a half after the illegal phone tap leaks occurred, we still have no answers. We hope to find some through the Court.

“We need to remember that at the heart of this saga is the issue of safety on building sites. The AFP was challenging CFMEU official’s legal right of entry onto building sites, and the union rightly went to the Minister to complain.

“Two people have died on construction sites this week. This is why we have right of entry laws - laws the AFP demonstrated contempt for.”