‘F***ing dog’: Alleged CPAC union attack on inspector
UNION organiser Roland Cummins allegedly launched a vicious, unprovoked verbal attack on an inspector at the Cairns Performing Arts Centre work site, a court has heard.
Robert Duckworth, a Workplace Health and Safety Inspector of 20 years' experience, was left reeling by the alleged close-range spray in April last year, he told Cairns Magistrates Court.
"Mr Cummins took a couple of steps toward me," Mr Duckworth said. "He leaned his face 2-3 inches from my face and he screamed 'you're a f---ing dog, Duckworth!' This was repeated three times."
Roland Cummins, an organiser for the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union, has pleaded not guilty to intimidating an inspector.
The alleged incident at Cairns Performing Arts Centre occurred during an inspection of the worksite in which union officials showed Mr Duckworth areas of concern.
These included apparent fragments of asbestos in the CPAC carpark and evacuation plans that were not current with the progress of construction.
The court heard Mr Cummins was worried that workers had not been entered on a register of asbestos exposure.
Mr Duckworth told the court that union officials became "fixated" by the evacuation plans.
"I was attempting to explain that the main priority, not to the exclusion of the diagram, was the signage."
He alleged the verbal attack soon followed.
"My first reaction was complete shock," Mr Duckworth said. "I feared for my safety; he appeared to have lost self control."
He described the defendant's face as one "of anger, aggression, hatred".
But counsel for Mr Cummins suggested that Mr Duckworth had become angry at interjections by union officials, and was "disinterested" in Mr Cummins' concerns that workers were exposed to asbestos in the car park.
"I don't recall," Mr Duckworth said. "All items raised were resolved; I did not lose my temper."
The court heard union officials at CPAC were concerned over alleged threats yelled at them when work was stopped due to the asbestos.
The hearing continues.