NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN (ALMOST)
21st June, 1985 : Norm Gallagher, leader of the Builders’ Labourers Federation, has been jailed for four years and three months after being found guilty in the Melbourne County Court of receiving bribes of $99,000. The construction industry throughout Australia is now bracing itself for a power struggle within the union, and for a campaign of industrial action that is expected to follow Gallagher’s jailing. The BLF has said Gallagher is still the union leader, and has started preparing an application to the Federal Court for a ruling to enable him to run the union from Pentridge Prison.
[Proto-Green: He was also a high-profile member of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist).
- “Our union had a long history of concern for the environment. The Sydney union in the early seventies raised the question of the name ‘green ban’. We were a bit old fashioned. We still call them ‘black bans’. For instance, we were involved in the conservation issues as far back as 1940 when they were going to build a small goods factory opposite the Royal Melbourne Hospital. We put a black ban on it, said that it would destroy the environment of that area.”
Following a Royal Commission into the BLF’s business affairs, it was deregistered. Gallagher was convicted of obtaining building materials from construction companies while he himself was building a house in Gippsland. This was the first trial in Victorian history in which a jury was locked up for ten days until they delivered a verdict. Jurors later made statements that they had lost their freedom and were coerced to find Gallagher guilty. On appeal, the trial and verdict were declared “unsafe” and a retrial was ordered. Gallagher was freed after four months in gaol.
Let’s hope that this time the justice system will work better.]