Posted on 7 Jun 2018

    The AWU Raid Court Case Is Set For August As The AFP's Media Leaks Investigation Is Nearly Done

    Despite her fiery press conference last week, Michaelia Cash has yet to apply to the court to have her subpoena set aside.

    The Australian Federal Police investigation into who tipped off the media about the controversial raids on the Australian Workers' Union offices will be completed within two months, clearing the way for the union's Federal Court case.

    Julian Smith / AAPIMAGE

    The AFP arriving at the AWU offices in October.

    The Federal Court had adjourned the AWU's challenge into the "improper political purpose" of the raids until an AFP investigation was finalised. The union successfully argued the trial should be delayed until it can be granted access to three confidential AFP affidavits relating to the raids, which have only been seen by the police and a judge.

    The case was due back in court for an update on the investigation's progress on Friday, June 8, but that hearing was adjourned until July 30 after the AFP indicated to the court that it expects its investigation to be concluded in time for the case to go ahead in August.

    However, the August 1 court date could be deferred if the AWU requests more time to consider the investigation documents, or the AFP decides to withdraw materials on the grounds of public interest immunity.

    When asked on Wednesday by BuzzFeed News for a status update on the investigation, the AFP said it was ongoing. It did not answer questions about the Federal Court proceedings.

    The AWU launched its court challenge following revelations from BuzzFeed News that jobs and innovation minister Michaelia Cash's office tipped off the media about the October 24 raids by the AFP on the Sydney and Melbourne offices.

    BuzzFeed News has also spoken to a journalist who claims they received a tip-off from then justice minister Michael Keenan's office ahead of the raids.

    The union aims to probe the validity of the raids, which were part of an investigation by the Turnbull government–established watchdog, the Registered Organisations Commission, into donations made by the AWU over a decade ago when it was run by current Labor leader Bill Shorten.

    Jobs and innovation minister Michaelia Cash was last week reissued by the Federal Court with a subpoena to produce documents and appear to give evidence in August.

    Lukas Coch / AAPIMAGE

    Cash told a press conference that she will comply with the legal process and issued instructions to her lawyers to have the subpoena set aside. The court has yet to receive an application from Cash.

    Unless the subpoena is set aside by June 20, the jobs minister will have to produce documents about the raid, including communications with her staff, and appear at a Federal Court hearing on August 1, if the case resumes.

    Cash has continually refused to answer whether taxpayer money is being used to assist her subpoena challenge, or whether she is receiving legal representation from either government or nongovernment solicitors.

    ROC executive director Chris Enright, Cash's former senior media adviser David De Garis, and former Fair Work Ombudsman official Mark Lee were also subpoenaed. The four have previously been issued subpoenas by the AWU in December, and again in March.

    Last week Senate Estimates heard that taxpayers have been charged more than $614,000 to defend the ROC and the Fair Work Ombudsman against claims the controversial raids were politically motivated.

    Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

    Contact Alice Workman at alice.workman@buzzfeed.com.

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