ACT News

Bail eased for unions royal commission perjury accused Tuungafasi Manase

A Canberra man accused of perjury in the unions royal commission could switch his plea to guilty before a hearing scheduled later this year, a court has been told. 

Tuungafasi Manase, of Evatt, is on bail from the ACT Magistrates Court on a charge of intentionally giving evidence that he knew to be false or misleading during a commission hearing.

His defence lawyer, Toni Tu'ulakitau, previously indicated his client would plead not guilty to the allegation.

Manase was back in court on Thursday when Special Magistrate Margaret Hunter scrapped a bail condition which required him to report to authorities twice a week.

Commonwealth prosecutor Edward Chen told the court Manase's defence team had informed him there was a possibility a guilty plea could be entered instead and the matter could proceed without a hearing.

A three-day hearing into the matter has been set down for May. 

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Ms Hunter noted that both parties were "talking" and there could be a guilty plea entered. She continued Manase's bail. 

She said if that hearing did not go ahead, any witnesses due to appear would need to be informed by the end of February. 

Manase gave evidence on the second day of the Canberra hearings of the royal commission in July last year.

His boss, formwork contractor Elias Taleb, had told the commission he had paid former construction union organiser Halafihi "Fihi" Kivalu about $135,000 to guarantee he won contracts.

Kivalu has pleaded not guilty to two charges of blackmail in relation to the claims.

Mr Taleb gave the commission a note – allegedly written by Manase – that contained a list of alleged bribes paid to Mr Kivalu. But Manase, while giving evidence before commissioner Dyson Heydon, denied being the author.

Mr Heydon warned Manase of his duty to be truthful and warned of the consequences before ordering him  write on a piece of paper so his handwriting could be compared to the original note.

Manase was later arrested and charged.

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