Ark Tribe back in court

Ark Tribe.

On September 13, construction worker Ark Tribe will face Adelaide Magistrates Court yet again.

He is facing six months’ jail for failing to attend an interrogation by the construction industry police — the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), created by former Howard government as part of Work Choices, but left in place by the ALP.

Martin O'Malley, South Australian secretary of the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU), told Green Left Weekly that no decision would be handed down on September 13. Both sets of lawyers would be speaking to written submissions made after his last court appearance, then the case will be adjourned until a later date again.

“The possible [final] outcomes are that he is found guilty and jailed for six months, because that is what the act says, or he is found not guilty and he is released. And we will be going for another court case to recover costs.”

He said Tribe was targeted because the ABCC needed a victim. “If you look at the history of what happened previous to Ark being approached, Noel Washington was in court for a similar thing. Failure … to speak to [the ABCC].

“For whatever purpose his case was dropped. I think this was about the lack of proper process … Now they were keen to get someone, get a guilty charge. It gives them a rationale for existence.

“Ark Tribe's issue came on the back of when [Washington's] case was dismissed … I'm speculating … They haven't explained why.

“The reason why they were so keen on doing something on Flinders [University, the site where Tribe was working] was they needed to get some evidence against the union.”

Referring to the recent federal election, O'Malley said, “The only chance we have of anything changing is the ALP getting power and changing its mind about the ABCC. The one thing that has probably changed the dynamics is having the Greens in the Senate, because they're the only parliamentary party that has stated very clearly they would get rid of the ABCC. The others haven't got it on their agenda.

“We know we have some reasonable support in the ALP. I think you have to distinguish between a Labor government and the ALP. You go and talk to anyone in the ALP that’s not an MP, and you won't find anyone who wouldn't do something about getting rid of these laws

“But when they get into government, they become different people because they have this thing that they have to govern for everyone. Conservatives don't do that. They look after their people, the bosses, the rich. Our Victorian branch [of the CFMEU] came out and supported Greens in upper house.”

He said that while inside parliament “you have one party or the other — that’s the reality. It doesn't matter who's in parliament, if you get enough feet on the street, you'll change things.”