Arbitration In Contempt
A Brief History of Mudginberri and its Implications for Australia's Trade Unions
'The notion that industrial relations should be
a matter for the individual employer and the individual
employee is one which strikes many responsive chords
but it is so far removed from reality that it is a
- Confederation of Australian Industry Director-General,
Mr Bryan Noakes.
'... whilst the theory might be right, that the
rights of the individual are supreme, the reality is
that we have to deal with collective representative
groups---we can't operate any other way in this society.
'It isn't a question of the supremacy of individual
rights, it is a question as to how one collectively
represents that grouping of individual rights to ensure
that the outcome is in the best interests of the country
as a whole, and that's what the trade union movement
stands for and that is what it is committed to but
it is not what Mudginberri stands for'.
---ACTU President, Mr Simon Crean
'The fact is that this matter will resolved only
before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission
in a industrial sphere'.
-Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations,
Mr Willis, in Parliament on 20 August 1985.
'... we have tried consistently to get that dispute
where it should be---into the Australian Conciliation
and Arbitration Commission'.
---Prime Minister of Australia, Mr Hawke, in Parliament
on 12 September 1985.
Location and Brief History
Mudginberri Station is some 250 km east of Darwin
along the Arnhem Highway in the 'uranium province'
of the Northern Territory.
It was, prior to the establishment of the Kakadu National
Park, a traditional pastoral lease held for many years
by the Pioneer Concrete group and taken over by the
Commonwealth for the establishment of the Kakadu National
The title to the Mudginberri Station Abattoir at the
moment is somewhat confused following original advice
from the Commonwealth that its future lease must be
negotiated with the traditional owners of the area.
That having been done the Commonwealth then changed
its mind and decided that it was still the appropriate
authority to confer a lease.
John David Pendarvls was employed as Manager of Mudginberri
Station by Pioneer Concrete and in the early 1970's
he developed a small abattoir at Mudginberri to take
advantage of the huge herds of feral buffalo which
exist in the flood-plain country which makes up most
of the Mudginberri lease.
The country itself is mainly low-lying black soil
country between the East Alligator and South Alligator
rivers with the Arnhem escarpment to the East. The
Abattoir is about 15 kilometres from Jabiru to the
south and much the same distance from Pan Continental's
uranium site to the north.
It is important to state, at the outset, that the
National Farmers' Federation had no involvement with
Mudginberri prior to 1983 when the Australasian Meat
Industry Employees Union served a log of claims, on
Mudginberri, and on all other abattoirs in the Northern
One of the abattoirs they served was a member of the
Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association and in consequence
a member of the National Farmers' Federation, and as
such we gained rights to appear in this matter which
would otherwise have been denied us. Prior to that
action we had no dealings at all with Mudginberri.
NFF's decision to become involved in the meat processing
industry stemmed from an inquiry made by the IAN in
1981 into various aspects of the meat processing industry,
and from a report prepared for us by W D Scott and
Co. which formed the basis of our submission to that
IAN inquiry. That report highlighted the extreme inefficiencies
that exist in most parts of the meat processing industry,
due to the enormously powerful position enjoyed in
the industry by the AMIEU, and, in particular, because
of the most common piecework method employed, that
is the unit tally system.
NFF's Industrial Committee, in conjunction with the
Cattle Council of Australia and the Sheepmeats Council
of Australia, decided that we were to become involved
wherever possible in the meat processing industry,
and seek to change the unit tally system, and to attack
other sources of the industry's appalling lack of efficiency.
It is worth noting that in 1977 the main employer
organisation in the meat industry, the Meat and Allied
Trades Federation of Australia had itself served a
log of claims on the Northern Territory meatworks intending
to bring those works under award coverage.
This proposal was vigorously resisted by the AMIEU
and the matter was dropped until 1983 when the Union
itself proceeded to seek an award. At first instance
the Union's log was dealt with by Mr Commissioner Gough,
at a hearing in Darwin where he announced that it was
his intention to apply the terms of the Katherine meatworks
agreement to the entire Northern Territory meat industry.
The Katherine agreement was one of the worst examples
of a unit tally system and was instrumental in the
closing of the Katherine meatworks some twelve months
MATFA and the NFF reacted extremely vigorously to
this ghastly proposal and, following a further hearing,
Commissioner Gough was removed from any further dealing
with this matter. Fortunately for the industry the
good Commissioner has now retired.
The matter was taken up by Commissioner Ian McKenzie
who proceeded on inspections in the Northern Territory
and heard argument in Sydney on the making of a Northern
Territory Award. In carrying out his task he faced
a number of challenges from the AMIEU, even one to
the High Court that he should refrain from further
hearing the matter because of bias. All of these matters
were eventually dismissed and McKenzie continued to
deal with the matter.
In July of 1984 the AMIEU decided to step up the pressures
and imposed picket lines at two of the small Top End
meatworks---Point Stuart (Epitoma Pty Ltd) and Mudginberri.
Point Stuart never recovered from this picket like.
As a result the matter was taken over by a Full Bench
comprising the President, Sir John Moore, Deputy President
Keogh, and Commissioner McKenzie. The ACTU and CAI
both intervened before that Full Bench and, of course,
sought a settlement of the dispute. That settlement
led to the withdrawals of the s.45D Trade Practices
action that Mudginberri and Point Stuart had instituted
with each side paying their own costs. The usual undertakings
were made by the Union about what good fellows they
would be in the future, how they would observe any
award that issued, and, importantly, that they would
re-admit to membership of the Union those persons who
they had illegally expelled from membership for their
failure to take part in that recent industrial action.
That Full Bench only decided one issue, and that was
the question of the appropriateness of a unit tally
system for the Northern Territory. In a decision issued
in September of 1984 they said that the Commission
would not compel unwilling employers to observe a unit
tally system but that they perceived the need for
certain changes to be made in the then existing contract
form of labour that existed, in particular the Top
They instructed Commissioner McKenzie to continue
hearing argument about the actual nuts and bolts of
the award to be made, and this McKenzie did, completing
his hearings in December of 1984. He handed down a
decision in late April 1985. The day the decision came
down the Union mounted a picket line at Victoria Valley
meatworks, which is some 300 kilometres west of Darwin,
and made it very clear to the owner of that works that
the picket line would stay there until such time as
he agreed to a unit tally scheme at his works.
On 9 May the Mudginberri works opened, and at 2.00
am, on 10 May, the AMIEU put up its picket line at
Mudginberri and made the same demands as had already
been made at Victoria Valley.
The position of Mudginberri as opposed to the other
small works in the Northern Territory was complicated
by the fact that it is an export works while the others
all killed for the local market. In consequence Mudginberri
requires the services of Commonwealth employees (meat
inspectors), officers of the Export Inspection Service,
a division of the Commonwealth Department of Primary
On 10 May the meat inspectors refused to cross the
AMIEU picket line and in consequence Mudginberri was
unable to process meat for export.
Of all the disappointments that we endured during
the Mudginberri dispute, the greatest of our disappointments
were those concerning the Department of Primary Industry,
its senior officers, and particularly its Minister,
The craven cowardice, under the guise of national
interest, which was the hallmark of all the Department
of Primary Industry actions in this dispute, has left
a very nasty taste in the mouths of those of us who
sought to have the spirit and the letter of the law
The complete surrender of governmental authority by
the Department of Primary Industry, to the AMIEU and
the meat inspectors, was the worst example of such
usurpation of power that I have witnessed in 16 years
in industrial relations. The fact that the whole exercise
appears very strongly to have been preconceived and
predetermined added further to our enormous concern
with the behaviour of the Government and the Department.
We believe it was preconceived because in previous
years the meat inspectors have resided on the station,
in very good accommodation provided by Mudginberri,
and as such they would not have had to cross any picket
line that the Union could establish. In 1985 the Department
decided at the request of the inspectors that they
should stay in the township of Jabiru which is a 'closed'
town, that is, only those people involved in the uranium
mining, milling and regulation of that industry are
entitled to stay there, and in consequence, those regulations
had to be amended to enable the meat inspectors to
move there which meant that the inspectors then had
to cross the Union's picket line. We suspect that that
was known and planned months in advance.
There were a series of compulsory conferences before
Deputy President Keogh, all of which failed in their
endeavour to have the Union lift the picket line and
have the inspectors proceed to work.
Finally Mudginberri Station decided that it had no
recourse left to it under the Conciliation and Arbitration
Commission and invoked s.45D of the Trade Practices
Act. Mudginberri applied for and was granted an interim
injunction restraining the AMIEU from picketing the
meatworks and preventing the works from proceeding
as an export industry.
Mudginberri proceeded for a permanent injunction which
was granted on 12 July. By this time the AMIEU had
faced a contempt hearing for its refusal to observe
the interim injunction and had been fined $10,000 plus
$2,000 per day for each day that the picket was maintained
The Union was subsequently sequestrated in order to
have those fines paid. On 25 July an action was commenced
against the Department of Primary Industry and Mr Kerin
under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review)
Act which sought to overturn the decision by Kerin
and the Department not to supply inspectors to Mudginberri.
The hearing was before His Honour Mr Justice Neaves.
It is worth recording that this application before
Neaves was the only decision we failed to win in some
twelve separate litigations surrounding Mudginberri,
and, in a momentously important decision, a Full Bench
of the Federal Court on appeal overwhelmed Neaves'
decision late in December.
The position that has been reached now is that there
is proceeding before His Honour Justice Morling the
application by Mudginberri Station for damages from
the AMIEU for the losses incurred because of the Union's
activities last year.
Obviously that decision will be appealed, leave will
be sought to go to the High Court and probably somewhere
about June or July this year, through one means or
another funds will start to move from the AMIEU to
Mudginberri Station and that will be the end of the
beginning of the Mudginberri dispute.
The really important aspect of the whole Mudginberri
dispute, as the name of this address states, is on
its implications for the Australian trade union movement
and possibly even more importantly for Australia's
small business sector.
What Mudginberri has shown is that where an employer
believes in what he is doing,, the law as it stands
now is there to enable him to protect himself, and
his employees, against rapacious action of unions who
have forgotten the purpose for which they have been
brought into being.
Society has conferred upon trade unions enormous benefits
and standing because society has deemed that their
purpose merits such beneficial and even discriminatory
One of the important aspects of Mudginberri is that
society, through the Courts, has served notice on the
trade union movement that by the continual exceeding
of their charter trade unions have, as it were, worn
out society's welcome and our society is in the process
of reassessing the rights and obligations that it will
demand from trade unions in the future.
In this context the role of the Arbitration Commission
is quite interesting in that no one in the H R Nicholls
Society would ever expect anything other than the most
flagrant pragmatism from the Arbitration Commission.
Many have been surprised at the strength shown by that
Commission in all of the events surrounding these disputes
in the Northern Territory.
We at NFF take the view that you cannot look at what
has happened in the Northern Territory in isolation,
thinking that the Commission would not have done that,
but rather that the Commission looked at the parties
before it; looked at the recent history of those parties,
and decided that in the final analysis the National
Farmers' Federation would be in the fight for the long
haul; that they would not walk away from a favourable
decision and would in fact demand such a decision;
and in consequence the Commission was prepared to make
the decision it did.
If I may make a personal observation based on sixteen
years working with the Commission. The one consistent
feature of the Commission's behaviour has been that
it always wants to find in favour of the side that
it considers will win the dispute. Traditionally, and
overwhelmingly, that has meant finding in favour of
There are, however, many incidents in mining awards,
oil awards and indeed a number of other industries
where the Commission has made difficult decisions in
favour of the employer in the face of severe union
condemnation only to see the employer then give away
the Commission's decision in order to gain the acquiescence
of the unions concerned.
In our case the Commission knew from its experience
in disputes like the wide comb dispute that that was
not going to happen.
That factor has to be before the minds of the H R
Nicholls Society, in making condemnation of the Arbitration
Commission that it is an institution imbued with a
desire to sustain and continue itself, and the inherent
pragmatism of the institution must be used to our advantage.
I draw from that a lesson for Australia's unions and
a lesson for Australian employers. I believe the lesson
for the trade union movement from Mudginberri is that
there is a system of real law, of courts whose decisions
are to be observed and whose penalties are enforceable.
This has led to a considerable degree of consternation
among the fraternal comrades who feel that such procedures
are entirely uncalled for. They profess to see nothing
wrong with a system which enforces a decision upon
employers but leaves unions able to accept or reject
those decisions. They are justifiably concerned that
employers have opened the door of real law to the jungle
of industrial relations.
Small employers have also been keenly aware of Mudginberri
and its outcome. There have been a number of occasions
since July of last year involving civil action against
trade unions, all of which to date have had the desired
result as far as we are aware. Small business is finding
a new and effective weapon, albeit an extremely costly
one, with which it can defend itself when unions behave
in a manner which is beyond the law.
The decision at Dollar Sweets is a classic example
of what can be achieved provided you are prepared to
take the hard options and see the issues through.
Trade unions will come to grips and will assess this
new position of enforcement while seeking to bring
every possible pressure to bear on employers not to
exercise the rights they enjoy as citizens but rather
to accept their serf-like status under the aegis of
the Arbitration Commission.
I think it was appropriate to put the quotes that
commenced this paper right at the start, so that none
of us are under any misapprehension, about the difficulties
that we face, in seeking to have the relations between
employer and employee carried on in a logical, sensible
fashion. When we see the senior employer spokesman,
the senior employee spokesman, the Minister for Employment
and Industrial Relations and the Prime Minister, all
trotting out the same tired old party line, we can
clearly realise that the course the H R Nicholls Society
is embarking upon is no cakewalk.
Rather what this Society must seek to do, if it is
to do justice to the memory of H R Nicholls, is not
to be intimidated by the size of the guns against us;
but rather to be uplifted at the potential of the rewards
before us for all Australians: if we can make the necessary
steps to change from a position, where industrial relations
is seen as some form of alchemy available only to the
anointed members of the inner circle of the 'Club',
to a position where industrial relations is seen for
what it is; is the basically simple business of getting
someone to do the job for you in a way and for a price
which is acceptable to both parties.
Jay Pendarvis has not only shown enormous courage
and strength but, even more dangerously to 'the Club',
he has applied common sense to the industrial arena.
That to 'the Club' is the real heresy.
CHRONOLOGICAL OUTLINE OF MUDGINBERRI DISPUTE
This dispute involves the Mudginberri, Meneling, Victoria
Valley and Alice Springs abattoirs. The works were
traditionally award-free and had worked on a system
of contracts with employees. This involved a series
of contracts between companies created for the purpose
and payment was strictly by result: so much per head
or carton of product.
- 1977 Meat and Allied Trades Federation of Australia
served a log to create an award for these workers in
the Northern Territory. The Australasian Meat Industry
Employees Union resisted the application and it was
- 1981 MATFA again served a log concerning the Territory,
but it was not proceeded with.
- March 1983. AMIEU served a log for an award in the
Territory. The National Farmers' Federation became
involved as the claims log was served on a member of
its N.T. organisation, who was also a member of MATFA
(Bond Beef Company). The AMIEU demand was for the adoption
of one of two existing awards: the Katherine Meat Works
Agreement or the Queensland Meat Industry Agreement
Award. Both awards are based on the 'unit tally' system.
Determination of matter continues in 1984.
- May-June 1984. Matter brought to a head with a series
of industrial disputes involving Mudginberri and other
works, Point Stuart, which never recovered. Pickets
and strikes at Point Stuart and workers expelled from
AMIEU at Mudginberri for refusing to strike. At this
stage, the companies invoked terms of Section 45D of
the Trade Practices Act and sought a reference of the
dispute to a Full Bench of the Conciliation and Arbitration
- July 1984. Full Bench convened in Darwin, conference
and an agreement reached including: employers stopping
Federal Court action; employers undertaking not to
discriminate against workers involved in the dispute;
union undertook to accept and work to the terms laid
down in the award to be made by the Commission and
expelled union members be re-admitted. AMIEU submitted
that a unit tally system should be introduced and that
the union should be the sole body to negotiate for
- September 1984. Full Bench ruled it would not (not)
impose by arbitration the unit tally system on unwilling
- November 1984. Full hearing before Commissioner McKenzie
on actual terms of Award.
- May 2, 1985. Award brought down. Award standard Federal
meat award except that it enables employees to negotiate
piecework arrangements with the employer.
- May 3, 1985. A picket was mounted on Victoria Valley
meatworks, contrary to AMIEU undertaking.
- May 9, 1985. Mudginberri opened for season. Being
an export works, it required Federal Department of
Primary Industry inspectors.
- May 10, 1985. AMIEU picket at Mudginberri. DPI inspectors
refused to cross.
- May 11, 1985. AMIEU organiser Pat Roughan tells Mudginberri
workers that, the only way that they would be re-admitted
to the union would be by going on strike and mounting
a picket at Meneling. Mudginberri workers refuse. They
are being denied work but have remained on the station.
- May 20, 1985. Conference with Deputy President Keogh
between MATFA and AMIEU. Union said it would only negotiate
on the basis of a unit tally system. Mudginberri again
seeks relief through Section 45D in the Federal Court.
- May 24, 1985. s 45D application stood over to 27.5.85
(Justice Beaumont, Federal Court) and DP Keogh hears
application from DPI to instruct meat inspectors to
go into Mudginberri. Keogh adjourns.
- May 27, 1985. Justice Beaumont grants injunction
effective from 30.5.85.
- June 1985. At request of DPI DP Keogh convenes compulsory
conference of all parties. He requested AMIEU to remove
pickets and enter into negotiations. There have been
a series of subsequent Federal Court hearings.
- June 14, 1985. Application made to Justice Morling
for order of contempt against the union as AMIEU was
still picketing. Stood over to June 17.
- June 17, 1985. Union solicitors sought leave to be
excused and withdrew, union did not appear. Chief Justice
Bowen said that if Mudginberri could establish the
contempt before him he would sequestrate the union.
- June 21, 1985. Federal Court imposes a fine on AMIEU
of $10,000 plus $2,000 per day that the picket is maintained
- July 1985. Brief respite from legal action.
- July 9, 1985. Federal Court commenced hearing of
application for final injunction. On the same day,
application by Mudginberri against Minister for Primary
Industry, Mr Kerin, and the Department of Primary Industry
- July 12, 1985. Justice Morling grants final injunction
under Section 45D.
- July 15, 16, 1985. Justice Bowen hears application
for sequestration of AMIEU against contempt of the
- July 16,1985. Hearing continues.
- July 18, 1985. Sequestration of union ordered, operative
- July 25, 1985. AMIEU calls national 24 hour strike;
application against Kerin and DPI comes on.
- July 29,1985. Federal Court ordered the sequestration
of AMIEU funds.
- August 1, 3, 1985. The Administrative Decisions Judicial
Review Tribunal hears case requesting that the Department
of Primary Industry be directed to provide an Export
- August 7, 1985. The Federal Court hears case regarding
AMIEU contempt of the Court's decision to 'finalise'
the order to lift the pickets. Hearing held over to
- August 8, 1985. The Federal Court is to hear appeals
by AMIEU against sequestration, the final orders to
remove the picket line, and the fines imposed.
- August 9, 1985. Full Bench of Federal Court continues
hearing AMIEU appeal against:
1) 21 June temporary injunction under s.45D restraining
AMIEU from secondary boycotting Mudginberri, and
2) the Federal Court sequestration order under which
the sequestrators control 2.3 million dollars of AMIEU
- August 10, l 1, 1985. 60 Minutes TV crew films interviews
at Mudginberri with Proprietor, J D Pendarvis and NFF
Industrial Director, P X Houlihan.
- August 12, 1985. Solicitors for NFF, Mudginberri
and MATFA convey to Prime Minister, in writing, confidential
terms upon which a negotiated settlement could be reached.
Hearing of contempt proceedings by Justice Lockhart
commences to determine whether AMIEU is defying 12
July permanent injunction granted under s.45D.
- August 14, 1985. Mudginberri commences action in
Federal Court against Meat Inspectors Association seeking
1) requiring EIS inspectors to enter Mudginberri and
perform inspection despite picket line, and
2) restraining the MIA from aiding and abetting the
AMIEU in its defiance of s.45 injunctions.
- August 15, 1985. Administrative Decisions Judicial
Review Tribunal decision by Justice Neaves rejects
Mudginberri application for order directing DPI to
supply export accredited inspectors to Mudginberri..
- August 16, 1985. Federal Court fixes 14 October for
hearing of Mudginberri claim against AMIEU for damages.
ACTU/AMIEU breaches confidentiality and releases to
media confidential terms of settlement proposed by
NFF and conveyed to Prime Minister.
- August 18, 1985. Picketer throws a log of wood through
the windscreen of a vehicle owned by Mudginberri.
- August 19, 1985. In preparation for damages hearing
on 14 October, Mudginberri retains partner in Deusburys
to assess financial losses incurred by Mudginberri
due to business interruption caused by picket line.
- August 20, 1985. In Federal Parliament, the matter
was raised by the Opposition in Question Time and as
a Matter of Public Importance (on the Government's
failure to act).
Employment and Industrial Relations Minister, Ralph
Willis told the House that the Government would do
all it could to end industrial action.
He said it was 'highly regrettable' that the AMIEU
had taken action against the Arbitration Commission
decision. The Government was attempting to make sure
the matter was dealt with through the industrial processes.
The ACTU had decided to back the AMIEU plans to take
the matter back to Arbitration.
To do this, the picket line would almost certainly
have to be removed.
The AMIEU will seek to have the NT award varied in
two ways; to abolish the contract system and have it
replaced with the tally system and to strengthen the
union preference clause.
- August 26, 1985. A group of QLD meat processors meet
separately and with AMIEU QLD organiser Annear to discuss
- August 27, 1985. MATFA convenes national meeting
to be held 5 September and to which Messrs McLachlan
and Pendarvis will be invited. CAI inform MATFA of
its intention to seek to defer National Wage hearing
until ACTU withdraws support for AMIEU picket at Mudginberri.
Through MATFA, NFF requests CAI to seek Government
support for this stand at National Wage Case and prior
to hearing convene brief meeting of all employer representatives
to obtain their support at hearing.
Mudginberri solicitors instructed to file appeal against
Neaves J's refusal to order Commonwealth to supply
essential meat inspections at Mudginberri.
- August 28, 1985. Arbitration Commission hearing by
Commissioner Sheather of AMIEU application to vary
NT Meat Processing Award with respect to preference
and payment by results set down for 29 August.
- August 29, 1985. Mudginberri solicitors file for
an appeal against Neave J's refusal to order Commonwealth
to supply the essential meat inspections at Mudginberri.
Commissioner Sheather in Arbitration Commission briefly
hears AMIEU application to vary NT Meat Processing
Award with respect to payment by results and preference
of employment. Further hearing adjourned to 4 September
when MATFA is scheduled to respond to AMIEU request
that further hearing be referred to a Full Bench.
During the hearing Commissioner Sheather stated that
the President of the Commission would not deal with
the reference until the pickets were lifted and if
the request for a Full Bench was refused and Commissioner
Sheather made responsible for the hearing he would
not deal with the matter until the pickets are removed.
The AMIEU is to report to the Commissioner on 4 September
upon its intentions with respect to the pickets.
- August 30, 1985. AMIEU stages 24 hour nationwide
stoppage in support of campaign against Mudginberri.
- September 9, 1985. Right-wing unionist Frank Troja
of reform team to challenge AMIEU's Wally Curran in
Victorian union election.
Owners of Mudginberri abattoir begin legal action
in Federal Court against federal meat inspectors. It
is alleged that the Meat Inspectors Association and
two of its officers aided and abetted the AMIEU in
breaches of the Trade Practices Act. The hearing will
begin in Darwin on 15 October.
- September 10, 1985. Mudginberri station begins court
preliminaries for an appeal against a Federal Court
decision that the federal Minister for Primary Industry,
Mr Kerin, did not have to order the meat inspectors
to cross the picket line.
His Honour, Mr Justice Pincus on behalf of Keely and
Sheppard J J, the Full Bench who heard the AMIEU appeal
against Justice Morley's decision of 12 July granting
the final injunction under s.45D, dismissed the Union's
appeal on the costs awarded against the Union.
The decision is very strong and written in such a
way that it will be very difficult for the AMIEU to
get leave to appeal to the High Court.
This matter opens the door for Mudginberri now to
commence action against the AMIEU for the damages that
it has suffered due to their illegal behaviour of the
last four months.
Mr Braysher, an eminent litigation accountant, has
completed his investigation of Mudginberri's damages
and his report indicates there are sustainable damages
ranging from 1.6 to 2.8 million dollars depending upon
how much of the meat that has been processed during
the dispute and is currently in cold storage in Darwin
can be recertificated and exported.
- September 11, 1985. AMIEU fined $100,000 for continuing
Mudginberri picket in defiance of order. Union also
required to pay costs---total estimated at $279,000.
Sequestration order: Current order continued. Judge
indicates second order to follow.
Union given seven days to pay fine, O'Toole indicates
that the Union will not pay.
Business Council of Australia announces support for
Mudginberri management and employees.
Council said that it was critically important for
all Australians that the issue is resolved in favour
of the employers and the employees of Mudginberri in
order to uphold the rights of small groups, support
change in the interests of competitiveness and reject
the abuse of union power.
- September 12, 1985. Minister for Primary Industry,
John Kerin defends Government role in Mudginberri.
Says the Government has upheld the law throughout
the matter. Says the section 45D matter is a separate
issue from the abattoir matter.
Mudginberri raised in several questions during Question
time. Prime Minister says both sides are in the wrong,
attacks the role of NFF in the matter.
- September 18, 1985. Ten unions, including Waterside
Workers' Federation, Federated Storemen and Packers',
Transport Workers' Union and Australian Public Service
Association discuss tactics over Mudginberri dispute.
Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations,
Ralph Willis, tells Parliament that he will appeal
to ACTU to abandon industrial action over Mudginberri.
Is critical of 'link' between NFF President, Ian McLachlan
and Elders which has accepted tally system at NT abattoirs.
AMIEU loses appeal against Federal Court fine of $44,000
for continuing Mudginberri picket. l September 19,
1985. Employers bring court action designed to de-register
the AMIEU. Justice Evatt tells hearing that deregistering
a union had never solved industrial disputes and those
involved should think about them very seriously.
Matter adjourned until October 3 and 4.
Work on damages claim for Mudginberri Station continues.
- September 20, 1985. Date of payment due for AMIEU
$100,000 contempt fine for continuing picket at Mudginberri.
Union indicates that it will attempt to have sequestration
order lifted once funds to cover second fine are seized.
- September 24, 1985. Transport Workers' Union, Qantas,
TAA and Ansett meet to discuss union bans on the export
of chilled meat from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane
AMIEU's sequestered funds released by Federal Court.
Mr Justice Lockhart refused to allow the funds to be
held to meet claims for legal costs by the Mudginberri
- September 25, 1985. AMIEU plans series of stoppages
next week. 24 hour strikes begin in NSW, Queensland
and Tasmania on Monday. NT will not be included in
order that an undertaking given to Arbitration Commission
head, Sir John Moore, not be breached.
- September 30, 1985. AMIEU calls off Queensland 24
hour stoppage following Supreme Court injunction to
restrain meatworkers from joining national protest.
Opposition spokesman on Primary Industry, Ralph Hunt
claims Australia has lost $7 million in exports because
of trade union disruption to the meat industry.
ACTU rejects call by Employment and Industrial Relations
Minister, Ralph Willis, to abandon industrial actions
- October 1, 1985. Queensland Premier Bjelke-Petersen
threatens to close State owned Cannon Hill abattoir.
- October 2, 1985. Australian Small Business Association
announces it will donate to fund to assist Mudginberri.
Federal Court paves way for damages case to go ahead.
- October 3, 1985. A Full Bench of the Conciliation
and Arbitration Commission---D P McKenzie, D P Keogh
and Commissioner McKenzie---demand that the union undertake
to desist from all further industrial action relating
to Mudginberri and associated matters, and to undertake
to abide by the NT Meat Processing Award. Hearing adjourned
until 4.10.85 for union to reply to demands.
- October 4, 1985. AMIEU announces it will go ahead
with national stoppage despite Arbitration Commission
The AMIEU failed to provide the Commission with the
undertakings it sought, and without hearing any argument
from the employer side, adjourned hearing until 17
- October 24, 1985. Damages hearing continuing, adjourned
until 9 December in Sydney.
- October 31, 1985. Appeal from the decision of the
Administrative Decisions Judicial Review Tribunal heard
in Sydney by a Full Court of the Federal Court consisting
of Bowen C J Pincus and Evatt J J. This appeal is from
the decision of Neaves J, sitting as the Administrative
Decisions Judicial Review Tribunal, in which he rejected
our case that Minister Kerin, and the DPI, had a duty
to provide an export inspection service to Mudginberri
Station despite the AMIEU picket line.
- November 19-22, 1985. The Conciliation and Arbitration
Commission took evidence in the Northern Territory
on 19th, 20th, and 21st on the application by the AMIEU
to review clause 33 of the NT Meat Processing Award.
This is the clause which permits the negotiation of
piecework arrangements between the employer and the
employee without any mandatory involvement by the union.
On the 19th the Full Bench inspected the abattoir
at Mudginberri and proceeded to take evidence from
selected employees. On 20th they took further evidence
from employees and evidence from Mudginberri's owner,
On 21st the Commission resumed in Darwin, concluding
Pendarvis' evidence, and taking evidence from the owner
of the Victoria Valley Meatworks, Mr Don Hoare, and
the owner of Meneling Meatworks, Mr Bob Bright.
On 22nd the Union called four witnesses to testify
to various aspects they wished covered.
The matter to resume for final submissions in Sydney
on 12 December.
- November 22, 1985. The High Court in Melbourne handed
down its decision on the application by the AMIEU for
an order nisi requiring that Justice Morling stand
down from hearing the Mudginberri application for damages.
This action follows a move by the AMIEU to have the
Judge disqualify himself on the grounds of bias which
he had already rejected.
The High Court rejected the Union's application and
as such the damages hearing set down for Sydney on
9 December and if necessary in Darwin on 2 December
will now proceed if either party wishes to take further
- December 5, 1985. His Honour Justice Morling reconvenes
Federal Court hearing of Mudginberri's damages action
in Darwin to enable cross-examination of witnesses
called earlier in proceedings.
- December 6, 1985. AMIEU seeks leave to appeal to
the High Court of Australia on two questions arising
out of dispute.
1. Application challenging the validity of Justice
Morling's finding that the Union had breached s.45D
of the Trade Practices Act by placing a picket line
---Application dismissed by High Court
2. Application contesting the power of the Federal
Court to impose a fine for a civil contempt of Court
and application to question the power of the Federal
Court to impose a continuing fine for a civil contempt.
---Union granted leave to appeal to High Court on these
- December 10, 1985. Justice Morling recommences hearing
on damages in Sydney. Federal Court agrees to an application
by AMIEU to have Mudginberri damages hearing deferred
until early in February. Application allowed on grounds
that relevant documents had not been made available
to the Union in adequate time to allow them to present
their case. Despite strong denials the Judge deferred
the hearing until after the legal vacation and set
down the new hearing for early February.
- December 19, 1985. Full Court of the Federal Court
(Bowen C J, Pincus and Evatt J J) in Sydney yesterday
upheld Mudginberri's appeal against the decision by
Justice Neaves in the Administrative Decisions Judicial
Review Tribunal. The Full Bench argued that the Commonwealth
has an absolute obligation to supply export inspection
services to export works which comply with the law.
Why HR Nicholls?