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McDonald may face charges

SENIOR building industry figures are licking their lips at the prospect that CFMEU assistant secretary Joe McDonald will face serious criminal charges when the Cole commission winds up in December.

During its visit to Perth in March the commission found that builders had paid around $1 million to the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union for “industrial peace”.

In evidence to the commission, Mr McDonald acknowledged receiving around $500,000.

Master Builders Association industrial relations manager Kim Richardson said the evidence was clear that Mr McDonald was in trouble.

“The evidence from the commission is pretty compelling. He’s admitted to be demanding money from large building companies – be it for casual ticket or bogus occupational health and safety training,” Mr Richardson said.

Mr McDonald said he was unconcerned about the possibility of charges and would continue to “go out and do my job and service my members”.

CFMEU secretary Kevin Reynolds denied Mr McDonald was being made a scapegoat.

“I’m sure there are a lot of builders that would like to see both Joe and myself gone,” Mr Reynolds said.

Indeed, royal commissions rarely result in criminal charges. Their public nature means that evidence revealed to them cannot be used in criminal proceedings.

Several major Perth builders, such as Multiplex and Broad Constructions, also may have questions to answer after the commission has finished.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Alan Fels told WA Business News the ACCC would be investigating any allegations of collusion that the royal commission uncovered.

“We have been following what is happening with this royal commission quite closely – particularly in relation to uncompetitive practices,” Professor Fels said.

“We took some action after the Gyles Royal Commission [the previous royal commission] into the building industry.”

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