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Construction corruption a betrayal: union boss

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The conduct of union officials in NSW and Victoria was a “betrayal of everything unions stand for”, says Queensland Council of Unions boss John Battams.

The QCU held a meeting on Tuesday morning to discuss the revelations from a joint Fairfax and ABC investigation into the construction industry, which found key officials, organisers and shop stewards from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union had been involved in corrupt deals.

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CFMEU deny corruption allegations

The CFMEU says any members caught doing the wrong thing will be forced out following allegations of corruption and bribery.

The investigation found some union members had been given bribes and inducements by building companies, particularly those linked to organised crime and bikie gangs, in return for the union’s backing to help win big contracts.

Mr Battams said he was “not aware” of any similar cases or evidence of similar activities in Queensland.

But he said he supported it being rooted out and exposed.

“I think the union has made it clear that any matter that involves this type of conduct or corruption should be reported to police,” he said.


“This sort of conduct needs to be stamped out. Such conduct is a betrayal of everything unions stand for, that being a fair go for workers, honesty and integrity.

“My personal view is corruption can exist in any part of society, from clubs to unions to politics, and now that we have these reports coming out of NSW and Victoria, it needs to be dealt with.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said he was “disturbed by the reports” but “not surprised”.

“This is exactly why the government implemented the reforms, in terms of licences [for the construction industry], that we did some months ago,” he said.

“It is because we want to make sure that industries in Queensland, [such as the] electrical industries, are free from criminal gangs.”

The Electrical Trades Union has been talking to other Queensland unions to gather support for a High Court challenge to the government’s laws, which could see electricians, plumbers and other tradies lose their work licences, if they were found to have links to any gang listed as proscribed in the government’s anti-association laws.