Verdict is in: we'll never sell out our members

Late one Friday afternoon in mid November the Trade Union Royal Commission quietly released a statement saying I was cleared of all the allegations made by one of their ‘star’ witnesses, Andrew Zaf.

Zaf’s allegations of bribery and corruption were aired on the 7:30 Report in January 2014 and were one of the reasons the Abbott Government called the Royal Commission.

The Commission had to be dragged kicking and screaming in order to get the truth and admit that Zaf lied about bribing me with a free roof in return for industrial peace.

Gary Cheetham, a former colleague of Zaf, sent emails to the Federal Police, Commission, The Age and The Herald Sun to inform them that Andrew Zaf had fabricated his evidence.

Ignored by the Commission and by the journalists, Mr Cheetham contacted us as a last resort in order for the truth to see the light of day.

Mr Cheetham also said Zaf engaged in dishonest and illegal business practices, including endangering the community by illegally dumping asbestos.

This is the man who the Royal Commission paraded as their star witness. This is the man who journalists Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker (The Age) presented as a credible witness and whose story based on Zaf’s fantasies, won them a Walkley Award.

It has now emerged that Zaf met with the other star witnesses of the Royal Commission who also gave evidence against me, the Chiavarolis from the Pentridge Village site. He met with them before they appeared at the Royal Commission in order to discuss their evidence.

Disgraceful it is, but as I have maintained from the outset, this Royal Commission has been nothing but a blatant political exercise which has cost taxpayers $80 million.

Its aim has been to make the CFMEU look bad, even if they have to rely on liars and dodgy employers to do so. Mr Cheetham approached the Commission a year ago, but they did nothing about his evidence in order to allow my name and the union’s name to be blackened for as long as possible.

If you put aside all the dirt that was thrown at us and the hysteria in the media that came from it, how did the CFMEU emerge?

What has been established is that at no time did the union misspend 1 cent of members’ money for personal use and at no stage did we do any deal to sell out our members.

McKenzie and Baker should hand back their award and taxpayers should write to the Liberal Government asking for their money back.
Despite their attempts to bring us down, we are still here, fighting for your wages and conditions. With the Commission over, we have been working on the next EBA and our members can be confident that, unlike other unions who appeared at the Commission for doing deals to sell out their members, we are in your corner fighting for you.

With your support we will win better pay and conditions for our hardworking members in one of the toughest industries in the country.

Have a safe and enjoyable holiday with your family and friends.

John Setka