Michaelia Cash's Former Adviser Refuses Question In AWU Raid Trial
Senator Michaelia Cash's former media adviser David De Garis has refused to answer a question during a trial over police raids on the Australian Workers' Union.
Australian Federal Police stormed the union's Melbourne and Sydney headquarters in October 2017 as part of an investigation by the Registered Organisation Commission.
The raids, investigating a $100,00 donation to activist group GetUp! in 2006, drew scrutiny because tipped-off TV crews and journalists arrived before police.
A high-profile Federal Court trial begun to determine whether the investigation was politically motivated and therefore unlawful.
The AWU claims it was instigated by Senator Cash in a bid to hurt the union and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.
Senator Cash's former media adviser David De Garis, who quit after admitting he leaked details of the raids, took to the witness stand on Monday.
He was asked who first made him aware that AFP officers were going execute search warrants that day in October 2017.
"Your honour, I respectfully decline to answer that question on the grounds it may incriminate me," he told the judge.
Justice Mordecai Bromberg then offered De Garis a certificate that would provide him immunity from his evidence ever being used against him.
But again, the senator's former adviser "respectfully declined" to answer the question.
AWU's legal counsel Herman Borenstein QC implored the judge to compel De Garis to testify.
"He was a significant person in that office," he said.
"It is a very important stage of the case and the evidence is highly relevant."
Justice Bromberg will rule on the matter when the case returns to court on Tuesday morning.
Senator Cash sent two letters of referral to the commission in relation to the AWU in the months before the investigation was launched, the trial was told.
"The underlying theme is there was a keen political interest on the part of the senator in the subject matter of the investigation," Borenstein said.
"It is demonstrated in the beginning by the letters and demonstrated again in October 2017 by communications ... and the media exploitation."
But ROC's legal counsel Frank Parry QC argued the media leaks and communications around that time were not relevant in the trial.
He said the key issue was whether the investigation itself, launched by ROC's executive director Chris Enright days before the police searches, was lawful.
"What goes on in the minister's office is a matter for the minister," he said.
The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions has previously said there would be no criminal charges laid over the media leaks.
Senator Cash, who has consistently denied knowledge of the leaks, is expected to give evidence on Friday, with federal parliament sitting Tuesday to Thursday this week.
"There will be nowhere to hide for Michaelia Cash. There will be no whiteboards in the Federal Court," AWU's other lawyer Josh Bornstein said outside court.