Saturday, June 19, 2010

Case adjourned, again!

With Ark's hearing not listed on Thursday, it was left until Friday before a ruling was made on the CFMEU's day 1 argument that the ABCC staff member who laid the charges against Ark Tribe was not authorised to do so and as such charges should be dropped.

With hundreds gathering outside the magistrates court in the centre of Adelaide, the mood as buoyant; there was a feeling that this might be it, that the charges would be dropped and Ark would be able to get back to a normal life and back on the job.

Sadly, it wasn't to be. Magistrate David Whittle found that the ABCC assistant commissioner, John Draffin, was entitled to lay the complaint against Tribe and that the trial would continue. CFMEU State Secretary Martin O'Malley emerged at around 10.30am, closely followed by the union's National Secretary, Dave Noonan. They told Ark's supporters and the assembled media that the trial was to proceed and that Ark had plead not guilty to the charges.

As he did on day one of the trial, Noonan threw down the gauntlet: "If Ark Tribe is jailed, the CFMEU will take action right around the country". Mr Noonan also sent a warning to the ABCC and to employers, some of whom had threatened to sack workers for turning up to the court to support Ark Tribe.

"Construction workers will not be intimidated by those sort of threats. We will not be held down by employers who want to hide behind these draconian powers. Ark is our friend, he's our comrade, he's one of us and we will be here for him as long as it takes and as hard as it gets."

The support for Ark Tribe from the trade union movement and the wider community has been building since his case first came to light. The CFMEU National Secretary told workers it must continue.

"All of us need to know that Ark is walking in our shoes, he cannot walk alone and this law cannot be allowed to stand," Noonan said.

With much time taken up deliberating on the CFMEU's attempt to have the charges dropped, the case was destined to be adjourned to a later date. Later on Friday afternoon, Magistrate Whittle set down July 21 and 22 for the continuation of the trial.

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