Heydon returns to continue hearings
ROYAL commissioner Dyson Heydon was back in business yesterday looking into the alleged intimidation, standover tactics, corrupt payments and kickbacks of the construction union in Canberra.
The day prior, Mr Heydon dismissed submissions by the unions that he should step down for agreeing to give a legal address organised by the NSW Liberal Party.
Labor is vowing to take a petition to the Senate, when it sits next Monday, for Governor-General Peter Cosgrove to remove Mr Heydon from his role as head of the commission investigating union corruption.
But yesterday’s hearings put the spotlight firmly back on the unions and allegations of price-fixing and dodgy practices of officials of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union in the ACT.
Hearings in Canberra in July led to the arrest of former CFMEU official and ex-ALP branch president Fihi Kivalu immediately after he admitted to the commission that he had taken $60,000 in bribes from a Canberra formwork contractor. He pleaded not guilty to two counts of blackmail as the ALP suspended his membership.
Another CFMEU official, former Canberra Raiders rugby league player Johnny Lomax, has also been charged with blackmail. He is expected to give evidence to the commission later this week.
CFMEU official Anthony Vitler was the first member of the union called before the commission after Mr Heydon dismissed the allegations of bias levelled by the unions against him.
Mr Vitler said he had heard rumours “from a guy in a shed” that a union organiser might be “doing something that is not right, might be taking money”.
It was 12 months before Mr Kivalu was arrested, however Mr Vitler said he did not report the allegations, did not know who was allegedly taking the money and the union took no action against Mr Kivalu.