AWU raids trial set to get underway tomorrow in the Federal Court


Tomorrow a long-awaited trial will commence in the Federal Court that will determine whether an investigation instigated by Michaelia Cash into the Australian Workers' Union (AWU) in 2017 was illegal.

 The case is being run by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, who are acting on behalf of the AWU, and was brought following unprecedented Australian Federal Police (AFP) raids on the union's headquarters, which were initiated by the Registered Organisations Commission (ROC).
Media were tipped off to the raids so that they would be highly publicised and damage the union's reputation.
AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton said the union was ready for its day in court.
"The AFP raids launched on our offices were a shocking abuse of power," Mr Walton said.  
"We know that the details of the raid were leaked to the media before the raid and the AWU believes that the extraordinary nature of the raid and the media leaks show that the ROC investigation was started to damage political opponents of the Liberal Government.
"We want to find out exactly why a supposedly independent law enforcement body considered it necessary to use the limited resources of the AFP to raid our office over suspicions of a non-criminal paperwork issue from a decade ago," he said.
Maurice Blackburn Principal Josh Bornstein, who is acting for the AWU, said the raids on the union's offices were unprecedented, with the trial set to examine whether the ROC's highly politically charged investigation into the union was illegal on the basis of being politically motivated and not permitted by the legislation that binds the ROC.
"What we saw in October 2017 was the ROC choosing to deploy more than 30 AFP officers to raid the union's offices in what became an orchestrated media campaign," Mr Bornstein said.
"For more than 15 months the AWU has been trying to get to the bottom of why the ROC investigation occurred.
"The various public immunity interest claims have meant that the AWU has not been able to get answers. But the trial now means that Michaelia Cash, her former staffers and the ROC will have to give evidence about what happened.
"This week we hope to finally get long overdue answers to these questions in seeking to challenge the lawfulness of the investigation and the raids," he said.
The AWU raids trial is set down for five days and is set to hear oral evidence from key parties in the case.

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