Cronyism in N.S.W. Courts and Tribunals, Labor Government Control Over Decisions, HealthQuest Protection in the Courts

Submitted by Antino Santangelo

Antino Santangelo alleges all of the following:

Thank you Anonymous for the article on Alison Viney. I am going to take responsibility for re-publishing this article on cronyism in N.S.W. courts and tribunals. Since I'm out of the country most of the time, I doubt the N.S.W. government is going to cause me any bother over it.

Readers will be interested to know that hot on the heels of recent damaging stories about N.S.W. State Labor (Orkopolous, Scully, Hickey and Della Bosca) come further potentially even more explosive revelations of Labor Party corruption, this time involving union cronyism in the operation of the N.S.W. Industrial Commission.

For these latest revelations Indymedia readers can thank intrepid journalist Michael Duffy writing in the Sydney Morning Herald Saturday 18th November 2006 (P. 35) in an article titled "Health and Safety - For Some".

Mr Duffy details two contrasting prosecutions under the NSW Occupational Health and Safety laws heard and determined by the Commission. The first involved the 1996 Gretley mine disaster in the Hunter Valley in which four miners died when they drilled into an old water-filled shaft while following a map provided by the Department of Mineral Resources. This map was wrong and yet it was the Mining Company and not the Department itself that was prosecuted in the Commission and found guilty. Furthermore the miners themselves were actually employed by a labour hire company - United Mining Support Services - but this company also escaped prosecution by the Commission. Why?

Mr Duffy recalls the fact that 'United Mining was half-owned at the time by the powerful Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union'. In contrast to this case where the N.S.W. Government Department responsible for providing the map that caused the deaths and the company that actually hired the workers escaped prosecution. Mr Duffy details another case also involving a labour hire company. It was prosecuted and found guilty and fined by the Commission for an accident where an employee lost four fingers. This was despite the judge agreeing that the injury was caused by events over which the company - D.S.C. - had no control. In this case the labour hire company had nothing to do with the CFMEU.

And here's the clincher. In his introductory remarks Mr Duffy points out that the N.S.W. OH&S laws 'allow unions to prosecute employers for accidents and keep half of any fine imposed by courts, whose judges are often former union officials.'

What a shame it has taken Michael Duffy to publicly expose what is just the tip of a very grubby iceberg - corruption in the N.S.W. Industrial Relations Commission - arising out of the N.S.W. Labor Government stacking the Bench with ex-union hacks and union lawyers - when the evidence has been staring us all in the face for so long. Take for example JUSTICE TRISH KAVANAGH - a judge appointed to the IRC. Justice Kavanagh is MARRIED TO LAURIE 'BOTANY BAY' BRERETON who before becoming a Federal Labor MP was a main player in the richly corrupt regime of Neville 'Nifty' Wran. (Lest we forget, I recommend readers dig out a copy of John Pilger's excellent book 'A Secret Country', Chapter 6 headed 'Mates: The Rise and Rise of the Silver Bodgie, Sir Peter and the Dirty Digger, Goanna and Nifty, Bondy and Others'. )

In law the perception of bias is as important as the actuality of bias itself. Justice must be seen to be done.

How can any person with a case against the N.S.W. State Labor Government have confidence in getting a fair and impartial hearing when their proceedings are assigned to a judge married to one of themost powerful Labor Party figures of the past 30 years?

The same is true of the President of the Commission - JUSTICE LANCE WRIGHT - ex Public Service Association official and PSA lawyer and member of the Fabian Society. Or JUSTICE WALTON, Vice President of the Commission - formerly a barrister retained by the Police Association. Or JUSTICE STAUNTON: ex head of the Nurses Association and State Labor M.P. before being appointed Chief Magistrate and then a judge in the I.R.C.

Then there is JUSTICE STAFF, another Public Service Association lawyer.

Furthermore Justices Wright, Walton, Staunton and Kavanagh were all appointed to the Bench by then Attorney General JEFF SHAW - another ex-union lawyer (Public Service Association) whom you may remember after resigning from Parliament was appointed as judge to the Supreme Court only to come unstuck after a night on the piss with another union lawyer mate and I.R.C. appointee - COMMISSIONER DONNA MCKENNA. The mystery of the missing blood samples and the possibility that Jeff Shaw attempted to pervert the course of justice has still not been solved, particularly after the N.S.W. police were cleared of any misconduct in that affair.

Perhaps the more idealogically driven of our Indymedia readers will have scant sympathy for Michael Duffey's revelations of employers suffering in the Industrial Relations Commission because of union cronyism - after all isn't John Howard and his Industrial Laws meant to be the big villain? But employers are not the only victims of Labor Party/Union cronyism in the Industrial Relations Commission.

The most unjustly treated victims of all are employees of N.S.W. government departments courageous enough to speak up about serious wrongs and abuses within their workplaces. They have been summarily removed from their positions by the illegal HealthQuest process and stripped of all legal rights including the fundamental right to natural justice and procedural fairness. In each case their unions, the P.S.A., Nurses Association, Teachers Federation, H.R.E.A., have not only refused to support them but joined in the bullying and harassment. Those who have gone on to try and vindicate their legal rights have come face to face with the greatest nightmare of all - judges who are linked to or have come from the same unions that have betrayed them.

Some of these stories have already featured on Indymedia, e.g. cases of Val Kerrison and other HealthQuest cases.

Now that Michael Duffy has lifted the lid on union cronyism in the Industrial Relations Commission there are more stories to come