How many federal police does it take to break up a tea party? Four, if it’s at a McConnell Dowell construction site.
In June 2014, CFMEU organisers Mark Travers and Adam Hall were across the road from the Melbourne Airport site compound and thought it would be nice to stop in for a cup of tea with one of their members.
They were chatting about their recent holidays and footy when two supervisors came into the crib hut and told them to leave or they would call the police.
Mark and Adam then waited until four Australian Federal Police officers arrived in two vehicles, took some personal details and left.
The ABCC took the CFMEU and the two organisers to the Federal Court, alleging they had breached the right of entry provisions of the Fair Work Act.
Slaters’ industrial team in Melbourne took on the case and were successful in having it dismissed in its entirety. The Court agreed that section 500 of the Fair Work Act dealing with right of entry does not apply to purely social visits. Justice Anthony North noted in his closing remarks that:
‘the law has always had a fondness for expressions in Latin. In that vein… this case may be accurately described as excitare fluctus in simpulo.’ (commonly translated as ‘a storm in a teacup’).
When Mick Sayers, Principal Lawyer in the Melbourne Industrial team, informed Mark Travers of Justice North’s quote, Mark was over the moon and exclaimed, “I’m going to get that as a tattoo!”