Email governance under fire at CFMEU

A manager at The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) NSW Branch has admitted ordering a purge of email following receipt of a Notice to Produce from the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption.

According to a report from journalist Michael Smith at, NSW Branch general manager, Kylie Wray, whose responsibilities include overseeing the IT and Finance departments, told the Commission "I was aware we were not backing up the email server for 2 years after a fire in May 2010 when the CFMEU office was firebombed."

Ms Wray stated that emails had been deleted manually in a process whereby IT staff log on to individual officers accounts and manually delete emails.

Ms Wray instructed staff by email on June 24 that the mail server was full and "the only way to free up the disk space was to delete emails".

“We are just days away from the royal commission kicking off and there is a LOT going on, we need everyone to make this a priority please,” she reportedly told staff — in an email.

Despite suggestions in reply that she consider using an external backup device, Ms Wray and other IT staff personally deleted email of CFMEU Officials.

Michael Smith reports that “Ms Wray agreed that it won't be possible for the CFMEU to comply with a Notice to Produce for emails from the beginning of 2013 until June 2014 (with the possible exception of persons who did not comply with Ms Wray's instruction that emails be deleted).”

“Ms Wray has given evidence that it never occurred to her that it might be possible to store emails on an external storage device.”

The saga adds to a litany of basic governance issues at a range of unions under investigated by the Royal Commission, such as:

  1. Correspondence between former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, acting as a solicitor for Australian Workers Union Official Bruce Wilson, was unable to be located by WA State government body with oversight, and a file held by WA State Records was found to be missing documents.
  2. When working as a solicitor for the law firm representing the AWU, Slater & Gordon, Ms Gillard failed to open a case file for matters relating to the Workplace Reform Association she helped establish for her then boyfriend, a union boss accused of corruption
  3. Health Services Union Official Kathy Jackson has been unable to produce a lost “exercise book” used to record tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of spending of Union Member’s Funds