More revelations on tower death trap
How does an African petrol station attendant with no English get a business visa to Australia without even signing an application form? That is a question the Construction Division of the CFMEU is still pursuing an answer for in connection with the fatal accident at the Lake Cargelligo water tower site in western NSW. Two men, labourer Craig McLeod and the director of the sub-contracting company BGA, Anton Beytell, were killed on October 22 when substandard scaffolding collapsed into the tower. Three others, including South African worker Oagiles Malothane, were seriously injured. BGA, a South African company, imported the below-standard scaffolding for use on the tower. It also paid Malothane, whom it brought to Australia on a business visa which he did not sign, just $400 for ten weeks' work. The CFMEU has accused the Howard Government of facilitating the importation of slave labour. "No interview by Australian consular staff, no signature on the visa application", said CFMEU State Secretary Andrew Ferguson. "This Federal Government likes to talk tough on refugees and border protection, but the widening Lake Cargelligo scandal demonstrates clearly that our Government is allowing lave labour to be imported into Australia without even the most cursory of checks." The plot thickened when CFMEU lawyer Lachlan Riches met with Oagiles Malothane at his home in South Africa last week and Mr Malothane gave a statement denying he knew anything about the business visa. "I knew nothing about how the document from the Australian Government got into my passport", he said. "I have never seen this document [Short Tem Business Visa]. I have never seen this document before and I do not remember signing any document for Australia. I did not sign any document giving authority for anyone to apply on my behalf for permission to go to Australia." The tower project was allocated by the NSW Department of Public Works and Services (DPWS). BGA's quote was ten percent lower than the nearest tender. It transpired that BGA also duded the State's WorkCover compensation scheme, at first not covering its workers at all, then telling the authority its annual wages bill was only $7000, slashing its WorkCover bill by 30 per cent, as well as claiming BGA was a pipe manufacturer instead of a building sub-contractor. The union gave the Department a serve for its failure to monitor the site properly. "For a State Government building site to allow this type of behaviour is inexcusable", said Martin Ferguson. "Of particular concern is the negligence of the DPWS in respect of safety on the site. The job was a death trap with every safety requirement ignored. The DPWS has responsibility for this tragedy."