The Guardian February 26, 2003

Terror raid on building site

The Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC) has demanded to know why 
Federal Police conducted a dawn armed raid on a building site in Port 
Melbourne last week, threatening the safety of more than 160 workers. 
Workers on the site were confronted by armed police who singled out all 
those of Asian appearance and herded them into a shed like cattle. The 
Federal Police were looking for allegedly illegal workers.

The VTHC described the raid as "an inflammatory and brutal attack on 
workers in the building industry" and asked how the Federal Government 
could condemn dictatorial regimes in other countries for violating 
democratic rights when it ordered its police to violate the democratic 
rights of workers and victimise them based on their race.

Further, the raid also contravened workplace health and safety regulations. 
"You do not send armed police into any workplace to conduct a raid without 
any protocols for ensuring workers safety. It is no exaggeration to say 
someone could have been killed in this raid.

During the Federal Government's kangaroo court  the Cole Royal Commission 
into the Building industry  the union movement warned that Workplace 
Relations Minister Tony Abbott's obsession with destroying the building 
unions completely overrode and ignored serious workplace health and safety 

"This raid takes his disregard for the safety of building workers to new 
heights," Mr Hubbard said.

"Mr Hubbard said the manner in which the raid was conducted contravened 
workplace health and safety regulations. He said the fact that building 
sites were dangerous places should be apparent to anyone with common sense.

He also noted that there are glaring discrepancies by authorities when 
targeting sites for people working illegally.

"Why do our authorities turn a blind eye to the thousands of backpackers 
from the United States, United Kingdom and other European countries who are 
illegally working in call centres and offices around Australia?"

Back to index page